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THE LIFE AND TIMES 



OF 



Rev. GEORGE PECK, D.D. 



WRITTEN BY HIMSELF. 






NEW YORK : '^ ^. '^* ' 
NELSON & PHILL IP S . 

CINCINNATI: HITCHCOCK & WALlfelir. t \' 

1874. : ^-; V , vX 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by 

NELSON & PHILLIPS, 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 



'^;^> "■ '" ^>^ 



COISTTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

NAME — ANCESTORS — EARLY YOUTH. 

Henry Peck — Jesse Peck — My father, Luther — His Dismal Ap- 
prenticeship — The Old Story — Annis Collar — Their Marriage — Hon- 
oraiy Church-membership — Removal to the " New Countries '' — A 
Log-cabin Built — Style of Living — My Birthplace — The Old School- 
house and the Teachers — Advice, wise and otherwise, in regard to 
the Methodists — Noisy Meetings — My Father's fearful Dream — His 
Conversion — Benoni Harris and his Mishap — Little Isaac — His Con- 
version — " The Hangin' " — I learn to Drum — " The Other Place,'' 
and the Doings there — I Visit it again Page 9 

CHAPTER IL 

CONVERSION — YOUTH — CALL TO THE MINISTRY. 
Castles in the Air — Father White and his faithful Talk — Convicted 
— Find Peace — Received on Probation — First Love-feast — Catechism 
— Death of my Grandmother — Death of Father White — Ralph Lan- 
iiing — ^Camp-meeting at Mindon — "The Power" — John Dempster 
and his Conversion — How we read Books — Family Removal — Ham- 
ilton — " Church in the House " — Licensed to Exhort — Call to the 
Ministry — John Dempster Preaches — Loring Grant — Invited to go 
to a Circuit — Family Council — Decision — A long Journey begun — 
Discouraged — Conclude to go Home — Tiy again — The Cold Sum- 
mer — Discouragements — Licensed to Preach — Camp-meeting at Ply- 
mouth — Bishops George and M'Kendree — William Lull — Father 
Dewey and his terrific Sermon — Victory 3g 

CHAPTER IIL 

1816, BROOME CIRCUIT — 181T, CORTLAND CIRCUIT. 

Conference — Bishop George — Bishop M'Kendree — My First Round 
— Jesse Hale — Joseph Smith and his Mormon Bible — My Volunteer 
Escort — Dr. Grant — Amanda Hotchkiss — Smithville Flats and the 
Musket-shot — The Circuit and " the Boy " — Study Wesley and 
Fletcher — Difficulties in the way of Study — Camp-meeting at Hop- 
bottom — ^James Gilmore — The Johnites and their Deeds — Finances 



4 Contents. 

— Conference — Home — Cortland Circuit — Elijah Bibbins — Quarterly 
Meeting in a Distillery — Camp-meeting — Alarming Illness — Home — 
At work again — Court-house at Cazenovia bought — My Studies — 
Theological Skirmishes — Camp-meeting at Truxton — Father Dewey 
agaiii — Remarkable Conversion — Proselyting Page 65 

CHAPTER IV. 
1818, WYOMING CIRCUIT — 1819, BKIDGEWATER CIRCUIT. 

Conference at Lansing — The Examination — Admission — Bishop 
Roberts — Joshua Soule — Wyoming Circuit — My Financial Condition 
— " The Little Camp-meeting " — George Lane — Stoddardsville — 
Lewis StuU and his Vision — Another Vision — Revival — Stephen Ab- 
bott — The Circuit — Quarterly Meeting — Baptisms — Camp-meeting 
at Salem — Studies — Marriage — Close of Year — Conference — The 
Presiding Elder Question — Bridgewater Circuit — " Sorrel Pie " — Ill- 
ness — My First Round — Camp-meeting at Carpenter's Notch — 
Proselyting — A Speck of War — The Highway Robbery — Removed 
to Wyoming — My Colleague Drowned — Finances — Conference at 
Niagara — Bishop George gi 

CHAPTER V. 

1820, CANAAN CIRCUIT — 1821, PARIS — 1822-8, UTICA. 

Canaan Circuit — The Journey — The Roads — The Work — A 
Brother indeed — Studies — Conference of 1821 — Paris — Pews — Stud- 
ies- — Music and Discord — Conference of 1822 — Charles Giles — Utica 
— Studies — Death of Isaac Collar and two of my Sisters — Conference 
of 1823 — Election of Delegates — " Pack of Boys " — General Confer- 
ence of 1824— Election of Bishops J. Soule and E. Hedding — Mis- 
sionary Meeting — Home-^Conference of 1824 — Origin of Cazenovia 
Seminary — Appointed and suddenly changed — Presiding Elder, ng 

CHAPTER VI. 

1824-S, SUSQUEHANNA DISTRICT — 1826-T, WILKESBARRE — ^1828, ITHACA. 

State of the District — Camp-meetings on Caroline Circuit and at 
NichoUs — ^Victory — Trials — Music and Discord again — Joseph Cas- 
tle — "Turn about" — Challenge from a Universalist — Accept — Re- 
sults — My First Publication — Begin Greek — Debate with a Unitarian 
— The great Camp-meeting on Wyoming Circuit — Benjamin Bidlack 
— Revival at Oxford — A. J. Hyde — Traveling in Winter — Confer- 
ence of 1826 — Wyoming Circuit — Camp-meeting and a Fire — Wilkes- 
barre — Conference of 1827 — A Perilous Programme — My First Book 



Contents. 5 

— General Conference of 1828 — Death of Mrs. Castle — Conference of 
1828 — Ithaca — Removal — Studies — Domestic Trials — First Session 
of Oneida Conference in 1829 — Temperance Oration on Fourth of 
July — Official Sisterhood Page 135 

CHAPTER VII. 

1830, UTICA — 1881, CAZENOVIA — 1832, CAZENOVIA AND AUBURN — 
1888-4, AUBURN. 

Conference of 1830 — Debates over Candidates — Temperance — 
Utica — The Parsonage — Work — Revival — Sudden Illness — Conva- 
lescence — Journey in Nev\f York and New England — Conference of 
1831 — Appointed to Cazenovia — Pew Church built — Revival — Gen- 
eral Conference of 1832 — Debate over Pews — Election of Bishops — 
What Dr. Capers said — Oneida Conference of 1832 — Re-appointed 
to Cazenovia — Revival — Dedication at Cazenovia — Dedication at 
Auburn — Revival there — -Removed to Auburn — Studies — Publish a 
Small Book — Serious Illness — Conference of 1833 — Dr. W. Fisk — 
Appointed to Auburn — Revival — An Outrage and a Victory — Con- 
ference of 1834 — Discuss Theological Seminaries — Chaplain — Elected 
Principal of Seminary 163 

CHAPTER VIII. 

1885-8, CAZENOVIA SEMINARY. 

Conference of 1836 — The Western Banner Established — Cazeno- 
via Seminary — The Infidel Club— Collision — Expulsion of the Leader 
— General Conference of 1836 — The Slavery Question — Two Breth- 
ren Censured — Election of Bishops — Where Dr. Capers now stood — 
Rev. Josiah Keyes — The Banner in Trouble — Slavery and Zion's 
Watchman — Dr. Fisk in the Field^Agitation — Conference of 1837 
— Agitation in regard to Slavery — Debate in Cazenovia — Revival in 
the Seminary — Conference of 1838 — The Seminary — Resign — Travel 
for Health — Rev.W. W. Ninde — Dr. Priestley — Voyage on the Canal 
— Pittsburgh — Delay — Slow Progress — Wheeling — Rev. W. Kenney 
— Nashville — Andrew Jackson — Journey through Illinois — The Mor- 
mons — A Quarterly Meeting — Start Homeward — Wrecked — " Not 
Scared nor Nothing " — Home , , . 184 

CHAPTER IX. 

'1839, SUSQUEHANNA DISTRICT, 

Conference of 1839 — Appointed Presiding Elder — My First Duty 
— Memorable Religious Experience — Camp-meeting at M'Clure's — 



6 Contents. 

Major Dixon — Dayton F. Reed — Camp-meeting at South Canaan — 
Hungering for Righteousness — Rev. W. Reddy — Journey Homeward 
— Ford the Stream — The Victory — The Record — When to Confess — 
General Revival — Centenary of Methodism — Propose a Seminary in 
Wyoming Valley — Study Christian Perfection — Death of my Mother 
— Her Character — Finances — General Conference of 1840 — Slavery 
again — Whig Convention — Clay and Webster — Committee on Slavery 
— Colleges — Colored Members in Church Trials — Resolutions — Dr. 
Capers on Abolition — Petition from New York City — Dr. Bascom's 
Report — Temperance — Proposed change of Rule — Elected Editor o{ 
the Quarterly Review Page 206 

CHAPTER X. 

1840-4, METHODIST QUARTERLY REVIEW. 

Removal to New York — Work and Overwork — Missionary Affairs, 
Debts and Retrenchments — Difiiculty in African Mission — ^Mission 
in Oregon — Buenos Ayres — " The Churchman " and its Attacks — 
Publish Work on Sanctification — Work on Rule of Faith — General 
Conference of 1844 — Cases of F. A. Harding and Bishop Andrew — 
The Debate and the Result — Southern Men Prominent in the Af- 
fair : Bishop Andrew, Dr. Bascom, Dr. Capers, Dr. L. Pierce, Dr. 
Winans, J. Early, Dr. W. A. Smith, Dr. A. L. P. Green, B. M. 
Drake, J. B. Longstreet, T. Crowder, S. Dunwody, Dr. Paine, Dr. 
G. F. Pierce — Prominent Northern Men : J. B. Finley, P. Cartwright, 
Dr. Durbin, Dr. Hamline 231 

CHAPTER XI. 

1844-8, METHODIST QUARTERLY REVIEW. 

Report of the Committee of Nine, and its Intent — Results Dr. 

Bascom's Pamphlet — I Reply to it — Evangelical Alliance — Embark 
for England — On the Rocks — Halifax — ^Voyage — Liverpool — Bristol 
— Wesleyan Conference — Ireland : Dublin— O'Connell — Scotland : 

Glasgow — Loch Lomond — Edinburgh — Melrose — Abbotsford 

England: London — Edward Corderoy, Esq. — Westminster — Fussy 
Officials — Tower of London — The Alliance — T. Spicer and his Re- 
ply—Speech on the Press— Hampton Court— The Breakfast at Sir 

Culling Eardley Smith's — Tea-meeting at the^ Mission House 

France : Rouen — Paris — Versailles — Fontainebleau — Belgium — Co- 
logne — Wiesbaden — A Qerman Sunday — The Rhine— Holland 

Pngla.nd — Home , 265 



Contents. 7 

chapter xii. 

CASE OF JOHN N. MAFFITT. 

Maffitt's Arrival — His Sudden Popularit)^— Joins the Conference — 
Locates, and becomes an Evangelist and Lecturer — Operates in New 
York — Rumors — Charges — Prepares for Trial — Goes to Brooklyn, 
and Refuses to be Tried in New York — Investigation Proceeds — 
Maffitt Protests — Forfeits his Membership — Rev. Mr. Green Secedes 
with a Portion of his Church — Maffitt's Divorce and Second Mar- 
riage — Lawsuit for Slander — MafEtt goes South — Death of his Bride 
—Maffitt's Death— Why I Rehearse the Sad Story— Pastor of Pacific- 
street Church — Success — Thomas Kirk — Editorial Work — General 
Conference of 1848 — Failure of the Measures of the Committee of 
Nine — The Action of 1844 Repealed — Report on the Subject — Dr. 
Lovick Pierce not Received — Commissioners Appointed — Elected 
Editor of Advocate Page 302 

CHAPTER XIII. 

1848-62, CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE AND JOURNAL. 

Old Controversies Closed — Southern Press Hostile — Dr. Bas- 
com's " Brief Appeal " — Its Object — Law Processes inevitable — 
South begins the Suit — Our Counsel — Canada Conference referred 
to— Trial in New York — Decided in Favor of the South — Case in 
Ohio Decided in Favor of the North — Southern Press Belligerent — 
Missouri Compromise Repealed — Fugitive Slave Law Passed — Edi- 
torial Difficulties — Unreasonable Men — Editorial Work — Death of 
my Father — His Character — Lay Representation Discussed — Dr. 
Bond Pronounces against it — Death of Bishop Hedding — His Fu- 
neral — General Conference of 1852 — The Pew Question — Slavery — 
Lay Representation — The Southern Suit — Resolve to seek Amicable 
Settlement — Appointed Commissioner — Election of Bishop — Boston 
— Appointed on Book Committee 322 

CHAPTER XIV. 

iam-7, WILKESBARRE — WYOMING DISTRICT — BINGHAMTON DIS- 
TRICT — SCRANTON. 

Oneida Conference Divided — Transfer to Wyoming — Conference 
of 1852 — Spiritualism — ^Wilkesbarre — Illness — Return to Work — 
Revival — The Youthful Murderer — The Southern Suit — Family 
Gathering — Conference of 1853 — Camp-meeting — The Fugitive 
Slave — Uncle Tom — A Sad Accident — The Southern Claims Ad- 
justed — Revival at the Plains — Conference of 1854 — Wyoming Dis- 



8 Contents. 

trict — Camp-meeting at Durland's — Conference of 1855 — Seminary 
Project at Binghamton and its Failure — Camp-meeting on the Che- 
nango — Rev. William Arthur — General Conference of 1856 — Debate 
on Slavery — Conference -of 1856 — Scranton — Revival — Church Edi- 
fice — Finances — Conference of 1857 — Revival — Publish Histoiy of 
Wyoming Valley Page 335 

CHAPTER XV. 

1868-63, WYOMING DISTRICT — LACKAWANNA DISTRICT. 
Conference of 1858 — ^Wyoming District — Samuel Griffin — Jacob 
Rice — Dedication at Scranton — Fiftieth Removal — Rev. George 
Lane — Conference of 1859 — L. Grant and E. Bibbins — Begin the 
History of Genesee Conference — Death of Mr. Bibbins — Mr. F. 
Myers and his Happy Death — A Journey — Conference of i860 — 
General Conference of i860 — Debate on Slavery — Action Proposed — 
Another Secession Attempted — Lay Delegation — " The Nazarites " — 
Camp-meeting on Everhart's Island — National Affairs — Conference 
of 1861 — News of War — An Accident— ^Camp-meeting — Conference 
of 1863 — War Spirit — Camp-meeting — The Draft — Resistance — The 
Black Fever — Conference of 1864 — Unacceptable Preachers — Gen- 
eral Conference of 1864 — Committee to Wail; on President Lincoln — 
His Reply — His Appearance — Wounded Soldiers — Taken Aback — 
Lay Delegation — ^Voted among the Fathers — Appointed to Visit 
Canada Wesleyans 359 

CHAPTER XVI. 

1864-72, LACKAWANNA DISTRICT — PROVIDENCE — DUNMORE — WYO- 
MING DISTRICT. 

Family Re-union — Centenary of Methodism — On the Committee — 
Sermons on National Affairs — Lincoln Assassinated — Memorial Ser- 
mon — Wesleyan Conference — Report of Speech — Impressions of the 
Conference and the Wesleyans — Missionary Sermon at Middletown 
— Conference of 1866 — Semi-centennial Sermon — Re-union of Con- 
ferences — ^Judge Dana — Family Meeting^Centenary Meetings — 
Conference of 1867 — Labors and Results — Conference of 1868 — Dun- 
more — General Conference of 1868 — Lay Delegation — " Mission Con- 
ferences " — Conference of 1869 — Wyoming District — Camp-meeting 
^Golden Wedding — Conference of 1870 — Accident — Conference of 
1871 — DenviUe, (N. J.,) Camp-ground — Camp-ground Secured — 
Conference of 1872 — General Conference of 1872 — Lay Delegates — 
Book Room — Election of Bishops — Labors — 'Mountain Grove — Dis- 
trict Conference — Resolutions — Conference of 1873 — Superannuation 
—Resolutions — Reflections 383 



LIFE AND TIMES 



REV. GEORGE PECK, D.D, 



CHAPTER I. 

ANCESTORS EARLY YOUTH. 

THE old Hebrew method of rehearsing genealo- 
gies has the merit of clearness and brevity, if 
no other. Borrowing the ancient style, I begin with 
the statement that I am the son of Luther Peck, who 
was the son of Jesse, who was the son of Eliphalet, 
who was the son of John, who was the son of Joseph, 
who was the son of Henry. 

The American Pecks are descended from an En- 
glish family, whose history has been traced by the 
curious back to the commencement of the fifteenth 
century. They belonged to the gentry, and were 
known in heraldry, having a coat of arms with the 
motto, Probitatem quant Divitias, all of which is 
recorded in the Herald's Office in the British Mu- 
seum in London. Several families of the name emi- 
grated to this country in early colonial times, and 
settled in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Their 
descendants were numerous, and the name appears, 



lo Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

not only in literary circles, but with some distinction in 
military affairs during the war of the Revolution.* 

Henry Peck was born in England, and emigrated 
to the colonies in the days of the pilgrim fathers. 
He is supposed to have been one of the company 
who arrived at Boston, June 26, 1637, in the ship 
Hector, with Governor Eaton, the Rev. John Dav- 
enport, and others, whose names figure in the annals 
of that period. He was among the first settlers of 
New Haven, where he located in the spring of 1638. 
The agreement of the original settlers, of which 
document he was a signer, is dated June 4, 1639. 
In the allotment, of lands the portion which fell to 
him is no.w within the city limits, and a part of the 
old homestead is still in the possession of his de- 
scendants. He took an active part in the manage- 
ment of the affairs of the settlement. 

Eliphalet Peck, the great-grandson of Henry, set- 
tled in the town of Danbury. The records of the 
church at Bethel show that he, his wife Rebecca, and 
their son Jesse, became members at the time the 
society was organized in 1760. Eliphalet Peck lived 
to an advanced age. 

Jesse Peck, my grandfather, settled in the south 
part of Danbury, now called Bethel, upon new land, 
which he cleared of the original forest, and made into 
a farm. He served as a volunteer in the Revolu- 
tionary War, and died while the contest was still 
undecided, leaving a large family with no means 
of support save their own exertions. Three of his 
seven sons entered the army. The oldest died of 
* Peck Genealogy, by Ira B. Peck, Esq., of Rhode Island. 



Ancestors — Early Youths ii 

small-pox while in the service. The other two were 
taken prisoners by the enemy, carried to New York, 
and confined in the " Jersey," which was an old ship 
anchored in the East River, and used by the British 
as a place of confinement for their prisoners of war. 
Here they suflfered many deaths ; and when they 
were at last released and carried home, they were so 
broken down in body and mind by disease and brutal 
treatment, that they were not able to recognize their 
own mother. 

My father, Luther Peck, was one of the younger 
of the seven sons. He was apprenticed to a black- 
smith when he was about fourteen or fifteen years 
old, and remained in his service till he was twenty. 
He always, in after years, spoke of his master with 
great respect, but invariably became grave and shook 
his head when he named his master's wife. She had 
cultivated the virtue of domestic economy till she 
had brought it to a high degree of perfection. This 
was especially conspicuous in the bill of table fare 
provided for the boys. She, however, was equal to 
culinary achievements beyond the corn-bread and 
thin bean porridge usually set before the appren- 
tices, and generally had a private store of better 
things in reserve for company and other emergen- 
cies. The life of the apprentices was one of hard 
labor and hard fare. 

It would naturally be supposed that a few years of 
experience like this would have broken the spirit of 
a fatherless boy, or rendered him desperate and reck- 
less. It did neither. Luther was physically strong, 
and naturally hopeful and good-natured. Moreover, 



12 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

deep underneath his love of merriment, there lay 
solid religious convictions. Thus physical endur- 
ance, his native hopefulness, and tenderness of con- 
science combined to save him from the hardening 
influence of circumstances by no means favorable to 
the formation of an elevated personal character. 

And still another influence helped to counteract 
the evils of this dismal apprenticeship. It is only 
the old story. There lived in the neighborhood a 
Widow Collar, and she had a daughter. The father, 
in the summer of 1777, enlisted in the army, leaving 
his wife and children at Danbury. During the mem- 
orable winter which followed, the darkest time of all 
the war, Mr. Collar died of small-pox at Valley Forge, 
Pa., where the poor remnants of the American army 
were encamped. About the time of the father's 
death the mother gave birth to another child, a puny 
infant, which lived, indeed, but seemed not only fee- 
ble but diseased, and in perpetual suffering, his cries, 
all through his infancy, being almost as incessant as 
the murmur of the brook which flowed past their 
humble dwelling. 

The winter was a time of privation and suffering to 
the widow and her little family, as well as to the 
heroes at Valley Forge. She was exceedingly poor. 
The husband, some time before his death, sent her 
what was called his pay, but it was in Continental 
money, worth little more than so much blank paper. 
The daughter, Annis, then about fourteen years of 
age, became the hope and the stay of the stricken 
family. She was healthy, active, industrious, affec- 
tionate, ready to do and suffer all things for her 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 13 

loved mother, and the feeble nursling in the little 
cottage. She spun flax and wool for the neighbors, 
and wove cloth, or performed almost any sort of 
service for honest wages, which she gladly devoted 
to her mother and brother. During that " hard win-, 
ter," as it was long called, when the snow was deep 
enough to hide the fences, Annis went into the woods, 
and with her own hands collected fuel, and dragged 
it over the icy crust of the snow-banks to her moth- 
er's door. Thus Luther Peck and Annis Collar 
grew up side by side, and by the stern discipline of 
a youth of toil and privation, were preparing them- 
selves for resolute battle with the labors and hard- 
ships of coming years. They acquired physical en- 
durance, and at the same time a mental robustness 
which are never without their value. 

Soon after the close of the war, Luther Peck and 
Annis Collar were united in holy matrimony, at the 
house of the parish minister, the Rev. Joseph Peck. 
The young husband was twenty years of age, and 
was an indentured apprentice, with one year still to 
serve. His master was neither able nor willing to 
release him from the obligation. To continue the 
compact was, however, impossible. Young Peck was 
in a state of rebellion against the woes inflicted upon 
him in the house of his master, and determined to 
have a home of his own. At last, the matter was 
settled by his agreeing to pay one hundred dollars as 
an equivalent for the unexpired year. 

The newly-married pair commenced housekeep- 
ing on a scale corresponding with their diminutive 
finances, at a place called Great Plain. The shop 



14 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

was no better furnished than the house. In fact, 
some of the neighbors, seeing the necessities of the 
case, united in a plan to supply the needed tools, and 
take their pay in work. But impelled by a strong 
arm and a stout heart, the hammer rang early and 
late, the debt was soon paid, and the little home, as 
the years passed on, accumulated the comforts, and 
even some of the luxuries, of life as they were esti- 
mated at that day. 

It may be here remarked, that all the sons of Jes.«e 
Peck were much of the type of Luther — full of life 
and energy, mental and physical, and even down to 
old age companionable, fond of wit and humor, and 
without an exception truly religious men. I feel that 
it is only justice to the memory of my immediate 
ancestors to here note their industrious habits and 
decided religious character. Some of them were 
rich in the goods of "this world, but not many. The 
great majority seem to have adhered closely to the 
family motto, Probitatem quam Divitias — Virtue rath- 
er than Wealth. But none can be called poor who pos- 
sess the better treasures of intelligence, energy, and 
good morals. Their stout hearts and strong arms did 
their full share both in the forest and on the battle- 
field; in the toils and sacrifices which have turned 
the wilderness into a garden, and won for America 
a place among the foremost nations of the earth. 

My father had a great respect for religion, but at 
the point of his history where we now are, and for 
several years afterward, was not the subject of special 
awakening. My mother had been thoughtful from 
her childhood. When she became a wife and a 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 15 

mother, her convictions deepened, and she was a sin- 
cere inquirer after the way/ of salvation. She urged 
my father to pray in his family ; but he felt entirely 
unfit for such a work. He did, however, make it a 
matter of serious thought, and went so far as to pre- 
pare for the duty by composing a prayer, and com- 
mitting it to writing. This paper my mother acci- 
dentally found in the pocket of one of his coats, and 
after reading it, carefully returned it to its place, and 
day after day anxiously waited for the result, but 
waited in vain. 

One day their venerable pastor was visiting the 
family, and in the course of the conversation quietly 
reminded them that they had children who had never 
been baptized ; and in order that the rite might be 
administered, the parents must connect themselves 
with the people of God — it being at that time con- 
trary to rule to baptize the children of any except 
such as bore some sort of relation to the Church. 
To meet such cases as that of my parents there was 
a sort of honorary Church-membership, " half-cove- 
nant," they called it, which entitled children to bap- 
tism, and yet was not understood to include full pro- 
fession of religion, or qualify for the Lord's Supper. 

My parents, therefore, united in this way with the 
Church, and their four children, all they then had, were 
baptized. In taking this step, my mother was great- 
ly encouraged and strengthened in her religious life. 
My father simply felt that he had done it for his 
children's sake, rather than his own, and was in no- 
wise disposed to imagine that he had gained any new 
title to the Divine favor. 



1 6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Meanwhile, the spirit of emigration had been 
working among the people of Connecticut, and sev- 
eral families had left Danbury and "gone west," 
settling in Middlefield, in the State of New York. 
But little was known of the "new country," and 
when my father began . to talk of leaving his old 
home and removing westward, the project had to be 
discussed at great length by the relatives, the neigh- 
bors, and all my father's customers at the shop. 
Many solemn consultations were held, and many sage 
opinions expressed. All agreed that cheap land was 
a good thing ; but then Middlefield was fifty-six 
miles west of Albany, and two hundred from Dan- 
bury, and the immense distance was an almost fatal 
objection. There were also grave doubts in regard 
to the wisdom of his leaving the goodly land of Con- 
necticut, and exposing himself and his family to the 
attacks of savages and wild beasts in the wilderness. 
The old people were decidedly opposed to so hazard- 
ous an enterprise. " You will starve in the woods," 
sighed one counselor. "You will be killed by the 
Indians," said another, the prophecy being reinforced 
by sundry dreadful narratives from the old colonial 
traditions. "You will soon come back, as poor as 
dogs," was the conclusion of another. The public- 
voice condemned the whole idea, as being visionary 
and full of peril. My mother, however, was not one 
of the remonstrants, and the decision at last was 
to go. 

Thus in the year 1794, Luther Peck and one of 
his neighbors removed, witK their families, to Otsego 
County, New York. My father bought some land 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 17 

about two miles south-east of what is now called 
Middlefield Center, and proceeded to clear a part of 
his tract, and build a house and shop. These were 
simply little cabins of logs, the timbers notched into 
each other at the corners, and the spaces between 
the logs filled with clay. Considered from an archi- 
tectural point of view, they were nothing of which 
to boast ; but this was the style of the neighborhood, 
and of the " new countries " generally. These log- 
cabins were usually about fourteen feet square, some- 
times smaller, with a rough stone wall against which 
the fire was built, a roof of slabs, and a chimney made 
of sticks notched together like the cabin itself, and 
thickly plastered with clay on the inside. A rough 
floor, laid upon the beams above, made a garret, to 
which access was had by means of a stationary 
ladder. 

All the appointments of housekeeping were in cor- 
respondence with the simple style of the dwelling. 
Carpets and table-cloths were unknown. Food was 
abundant and substantial, but consisted of few arti- 
cles. Tea was somewhat used, but was cdstly. Cof- 
fee was not known. Beef, pork, potatoes, milk, bread 
made of rye and corn, composed the ordinary fare, 
occasionally diversified with the flesh of domestic 
fowls, or venison and other wild game. These edi- 
bles were set upon the table in pewter plates, wooden 
trenchers, and wooden bowls great and small, with 
here and there a piece of earthenware, or other 
crockery, to give variety to the show. 

Thus rude and primitive was frontier life in East- 
ern New York only eighty years ago. It was labori- 
2 



1 8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ous, and to modern eyes almost barbarous, but did 
not lack its bright side. It was independent, free 
from conventional constraint, and full as conducive 
to good health, good morals, and contentment, as 
the more pretentious ways of later times. The men 
and boys worked in the field, the forest, or the shop, 
while the women and girls were busy with their do- 
mestic duties, which included the spinning of flax and 
wool, and the weaving of cloth for family wear. 

In a little log-cabin of the kind described, the first 
which my father erected, I was born, on the 8th of 
August, 1797 ; and amid scenes like these, gradually 
changing as the years passed on, but long retaining 
many of their striking features, I spent my boyhood. 
The family lived in this dwelling but a little time, and 
I have no recollections of residence there ; but I 
often saw the place in my early years, and felt a sort 
of veneration for it. And so frequently did I hear 
my parents describe its wild, rornantic character, that 
my impressions of it, to this day, are very vivid. The 
forest was around them on every side, and in some 
directions, stretched its shadowy solitudes unbroken 
for miles. By day, the waving of the tall trees, the 
notes of the birds, the gambols of the squirrels, and 
the murmur of the brook, gave pleasure to the eye 
and the ear. By night, the low whisper of the rust- 
ling leaves, the weird notes of the whip-poor-will, the 
startling hoot of the great owl, or the querulous notes 
of the smaller, with the distant howl of an occasional 
wolf, formed a sylvan chorus which filled the mind 
with mingled emotions of awe and pleasure. 

After a residence here of about three years, my 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 19 

father, with an eye to a better location for his busi- 
ness, bought land on the main road which leads from 
Cooperstown to Albany, and built another log-house 
and shop, the distance from his first location being 
about two miles. The new dwelling was an im- 
provement on, the other. It had a shingle roof, a 
stone chimney, and' was well plastered between the 
logs. It stood on the hill south of Red Creek, and 
commanded a beautiful view of the green hills be- 
yond. Here I spent many a happy day. 

When I began to go to school, however, my hap- 
piness was seriously interrupted. The school-house 
had been something of an itinerant. It was built, 
originally, half a mile below our house, then removed 
to a point three fourths of a mile above us, and finally 
found a resting-place on the corner of our land. Here 
began my acquaintance with the real ills of life. 
When this notable edifice was making its first pil- 
grimage, with a dozen yoke of oxen slowly drawing 
it, and a frolicsome individual astride of the ridge- 
pole, waving a red handkerchief tied to a stick, it 
seemed to me a spectacle of surpassing grandeur. 
But after it had been set down on the borders of a 
marsh, peopled with frogs and lizards, it became to 
me a prison, of which my recollections are so many 
wounds. I used to be driven to school as a slave to 
his toil. I often pretended to be sick, and for a time, 
my tender mother believed me ; but when it was seen 
that my health every morning began to improve as 
soon as the other school-children got out of sight, 
my device failed. 

I account for my horror of school on several 



20 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

grounds. The confinement was abhorrent to my na- 
ture. My mind and body both seemed to be formed 
for the open air and active life. I loved the fields, 
the great out-of-doors. Then, again, the exercises 
were not so conducted as to interest a small child, 
or make him see that any valuable end was to be an- 
swered by them. And lastly, the punishments for 
petty offenses, of which I doubtless had my full share, 
were barbarous. The whip and the ferule I could 
endure ; but to hold a gag between my teeth, to have 
a split stick stuck upon my nose, or to be made to 
stand in the middle of the floor or upon a bench 
for an hour at a time, an object of derision, was 
more than I could bear. There were two things, 
of singularly opposite character, which mitigated 
my woes — the religious exercises with which the 
daily sessions began and ended, and the hours of 
play. Without these the burden would have been 
intolerable. 

Three or four of my early teachers I remember 
with special interest, and reference to them will il- 
lustrate more than one feature of the times. The 
first -one was the wife of the Rev. Asa Cummings, a 
regular preacher of our Church, who was then trav- 
eling the Otsego Circuit. The people concluded that 
the school-house might be made to perform additional 
duty as a parsonage. It was a poor, frame affair, 
weather-boarded, but without lath and plaster. Loose 
boards, laid upon the upper beams, constituted a gar- 
ret, where the beds of the family were placed, and a 
few cooking utensils were ranged on one side of the 
great fireplace. As the children spent all the time 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 21 

they could out of doors, we seldom saw any thing of 
the domestic economy of the family. 

Here was the home of the itinerant minister, and 
here his wife taught the children of her neighbors. 
Mrs. Cummings was an old-style Dutch lady, but not 
unequal to her position as teacher. Her piety was 
intelligent and earnest. Her school prayers were 
simple, sensible, and , fervent, and made upon my 
young heart impressions which many years have not 
effaced.. But the itinerant wheel revolved ; Mr. 
Cummings and his wife left us, and another teacher 
reigned in her stead. 

Her successor was a savage old man by the name 
of Thurston, whose fierceness, however, was chiefly 
in his language. He seldom called up a boy to re- 
cite without applying to him some insulting term. 
His favorite epithets were rascal, dog, beggar, and 
the like. " Peck, you scoundrel," he would roar, 
" come and read." 

With the girls he dealt more politely, simply styl- 
ing them fools. His reign was short. His successor 
was Roswell Valentine, who was an earnest Chris- 
tian, and made mighty prayers He was quite a 
student, for the times. He taught reading, writing, 
and the simpler rules of arithmetic only ; but his 
reputation was much enhanced by a rumor that he 
was studying grammar. The religious character of 
this man made a deep impression on me. The 
teacher, however, who really made the school to me 
something besides a prison, and laid a foundation for 
my future improvement, was a Dr. John Goodrich, who 
taught in our school-house, in an intermittent way, 



22 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

for several years. He gave instructions in surveying, 
in addition to the common branches, and also gave 
us lectures on many interesting subjects. He was a 
splendid reader and speaker, too, and did much to 
wake up the young people to the importance of men- 
tal improvement. 

About the year 1800 a great religious change took 
place in my father's family. When my parents left 
Connecticut they brought Church letters of recom- 
mendation ; but the nearest place of worship of the 
Congregational order was at Cooperstown, six and a 
half miles distant, and they seldom attended worship 
there. They had heard of the Methodists, but the 
new sect was described in such contradictory terms 
that they knew not what to think. Before they left 
their New England home my mother was informed 
by my Grandmother Peck that she had heard a 
Methodist preacher by the name of Lee preach in 
Redding, and had been brought thus to a knowledge 
of the truth. She added, that she was so far ad- 
vanced in years that she would not change her 
Church relations. " But," said she, " Annis, when 
you get to your new home, if the Methodists are 
near you, go and hear them, for you may be sure 
they are the people of God." 

Their pastor came to see them just before they 
left Connecticut. He, too, gave them some advice 
on the same subject. 

" You will meet," said he, " out in the new coun- 
try, these strolling Methodists. They go about with 
their sanctimonious looks and lang'uid /lair, bawling 
and frightening women and children. They are 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 23 

wolves in sheep's clothing, the false prophets which 
should come in the last days, creeping into houses, 
and leading captive silly women laden with sins and 
led away with divers lusts." 

My mother pondered all these things in her he'art, 
and was left, perhaps, in about the right condition of 
mind to form an independent judgment. She had 
often felt the repulsive force of the Calvinistic doc- 
trines of election and reprobation as they were then 
taught. And as for the old minister, she thought 
that he was too fond of seeing the young people 
dance. She was already hungering and thirsting for 
a purer Gospel and a higher Divine life than she had 
hitherto known. These she was destined to find in 
the wilderness, where, as she had been told, the sab- 
bath was unknown, and the people were heathen. 

In the year 1788 the Rev. Freeborn Garrettson 
had been sent, with a company of ten or twelve 
young preachers, to establish circuits in this part 
of the State, and had been successful. One circuit 
extended along the Mohawk River as far as Whites- 
town. Another, south of it, included Middlefield, 
Springfield, Milford, and Worcester. Otsego Cir- 
cuit was formed in 1791, and appears in the Minutes 
of that year. A preaching-place was established at 
Middlefield, in the house of Isaac Green, on the hill 
north of Red Creek, about three quarters of a mile 
from my father's. Here, and at the house of Daniel 
M'Callum, about the same distance on another 
road, Methodist preaching was maintained for many 
years. 



24 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

My parents occasionally attended these services, 
my mother feeling that she was profited thereby, and 
my father complaining of the conduct of the wor- 
shipers. He could not understand why the people 
groaned so dismally, and uttered "Amen" so often. 
The word was familiar to him as the conclusion of a 
prayer ; but that any body who chose should use it to 
punctuate both the prayers and the sermon in every 
part was to him unaccountable. It made confusion, 
he said. Just as he was becoming interested in the 
discourse, some one close by bis side, or behind him, 
would groan loudly^or thunder "Amen." He turned 
his eyes this way and that as the strange noises struck 
his ears, till he became vexed, and wished that they 
would cease and let him " hear a little of what the 
preacher said." He did not imagine that he was 
about to be led, by a way which he had not known, 
into the closest sympathy with this strange people. 

About this time three of my father's intimate 
friends were suddenly called into eternity. Nicholls, 
who waved the flag from the roof of the school-house, 
fell from a cart, and was injured so that lie died ; 
Fling was crushed by the fall of a tree ; Gilbert was 
drowned. These sad events, following each other in 
swift succession, deeply affected him. In secret he 
thought much, felt much, promised much, but gave 
no outward token of what was passing within. He 
had never been addicted to the grosser vices. His 
Puritanic education had imbedded itself in his char- 
acter, and he possessed a tender conscience. Still 
he was worldly, mirthful, fond of lively company, and 
was constantly led into associations which operated 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 25 

against his religious convictions, and kept him from 
a full surrender of his heart and life to God, While 
my mother, who was now leading a life of prayer, 
was mourning over the apparent unconcern of her 
loved husband, and while he, perhaps, was really try- 
ing to be indifferent and unmoved, he was suddenly 
arrested in an unusual manner. 

In a dream two of the three deceased associates 
already named seemed to approach him, and sum- 
mon him to the eternal world. With one of them on 
each side, he thought he rose from earth and began 
bis flight. He expected at once to be ushered into 
the presence of a God whose repeated warnings he 
had disregarded, and whose forbearance he bad ut- 
terly exhausted. The most intense horror seized his 
soul. He had no hope of mercy. His whole frame 
became so agitated with the terror of the vision that 
my mother was awakened, and, in alarm, aroused 
him from sleep. He immediately arose, exclaiming, 
" I am going to die, and I shall be lost ! " He was 
in an agony of remorse. He alternately fell upon 
his knees to implore mercy, and walked the floor, 
wringing his hands, and uttering the most heart- 
rending exclamations of despair. He expected to 
die before morning, and saw nothing before him but 
" the blackness of darkness forever." 

The weary hours wore away, and at last the morn- 
ing dawned. The children awoke and gathered in 
consternation about their weeping father. I well 
remember being helped down the ladder that morn- 
ing, and being struck with the changed aspect of 
things. My father, who was usually the first to 



26 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

salute us with kind or playful words, sat weeping and 
groaning in one corner, with my sisters gathered 
around him, sobbing with sympathetic emotion. 
Mother sat at a little distance, also weeping. The 
whole scene was to me one of great but inexplicable 
distress. 

This intense mental 'anguish, of course, could not 
last ; nevertheless, from the hour of that fearful dream, 
my father changed his course. He began to pray in 
his family and in secret, and yet found no peace. 
For months he was under the deepest conviction, 
scarcely hoping for mercy. Such was his mental 
distress that he wasted away under it, and his kind 
neighbors were alarmed lest he should lose his rea- 
son, or die. His old associates were confounded 
with the turn things had taken. One sagely con- 
cluded that a little jolly talk would scatter the cloud, 
and so he came over prepared to amuse my father with 
a lot of comic stories, but soon found that he was only 
exciting disgust. Another, rather a religious man, 
too, in his way, undertook to convince him that he 
had an exaggerated idea of his own guilt. "Why, 
Mr. Peck," said he, " if you go to hell, what will be- 
come of us .'" This " untempered mortar " was also 
rejected. 

In another quarter, however, the penitent found 
true sympathy. He began regularly to attend the 
Methodist meetings in his neighborhood, and now 
found that the responses of the worshipers did not 
disturb him. • My mother and my eldest sister united 
with the little Society, and encouraged him to trust in 
the Saviour whom they had found. There were devoted 



Ancestors — Early Youths 27 

women belonging to the class, who gave him their 
prayers, and cheered him with their counsel. The 
preachers made us frequent visits, and filled the 
whole house with holy influence. When they 
came, the family was called together, and after a 
few minutes of conversation, fervent prayer was 
offered. When they rose to depart, they took the 
hand of every member of the family, and gave to 
each an appropriate exhortation. What outbursts 
of holy emotion marked these occasions ! What 
tears and sighs and earnest responses ! 

Light gradually broke upon my father's mind, and 
he, too, united with the Methodist Society. From 
that time his house became the home of the preach- 
ers, and a true house of God. Under its lowly roof 
preaching, prayer-meetings, and class-meetings were 
of frequent occurrence. On one occasion the crowd 
was so great that one of the floor beams gave way, 
and created a temporary panic. Many a quaint and 
curious thing occurs to my mind as I review the his- 
tory of those days. I remember hearing Jonathan 
Newman, who traveled the Otsego Circuit in 1804, 
preach in that old log-cabin, crowded to the last foot 
of space, a wonderful sermon, which was the talk of 
the whole country for years. The text was, " Nine 
and twenty knives." I remember only one feature 
of the discourse ; it was very loud. Sometimes the 
meeting was at Uncle Daniel M'Callum's, or Father 
Green's, as the neighbors affectionately termed them. 
■At the latter place I witnessed the first sacramental 
service which I can remember. There I also heard 
Benoni Harris, a chubby little man with a mighty 



28 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

voice, preach on the " end of the world." The idea 
that the earth would be burned never so impressed 
me before. The preacher stamped, and raised his 
clenched hand to his head, and dashed it down, and, 
in a voice of thunder, gave a terrific description of 
the final conflagration. The descriptions and the 
language of this sermon haunted my imagination for 
years. 

Mr. Harris was, in more respects than one, a re- 
markable man. His physique was peculiar. He was 
very short and very stout, and looked as if he had 
once been a man of full stature and size, but had 
been pushed together like a spy-glass. His voice 
was something terrific. Odd stories were told of his 
ministrations. One was to the effect that, preaching 
on a certain occasion in a sugar camp, he mounted 
upon an empty hogshead, as his pulpit. In the 
midst of an impassioned deliverance, emphasizing 
his words with a vigorous stamp, he broke in the 
head, and in an instant almost disappeared. Still, 
not in the least disconcerted, he continued his ser- 
mon as if nothing had happened, the congregation 
hearing the steady roar of his wondrous voice, but 
seeing nothing of him but the shiny top of his bald 
head bobbing about, and his hands stretched up, 
gesticulating wildly. 

Soon after my parents united with the Methodists, 
my mother's brother, Isaac Collar, became a member 
of our family. He was the puny infant of which I 
have already spoken. He was now about twenty- 
eight years of age, but was a dwarf, having the ap- 
pearance of a boy of nine or ten years, in all except 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 29 

his face and general manner. He had been well edu- 
cated with a view to his becoming a school teacher ; 
but his diminutive size, considered in connection with 
the ideas of school discipline prevalent at that time, 
was decidedly against him, and the plan was aban- 
doned. He had a genius for music, and was an ex- 
pert performer on the violin. 

On his aijival at my father's he was received with 
great kindness,' but soon found that he was breath- 
ing a strange atmosphere. He had brought his in- 
strument with him, and I, for one, was delighted with 
the prospect of enjoying his performances ; but when 
he got out his fiddle, and began to rattle ofE the jigs, 
my mother and sisters looked grave, and instead ot 
praising his skill, talked to him about his soul. He 
was not averse to a discussion of the subject, and 
declared his opinions very freely, saying that the 
girls were too young to think of such things, and 
that they ought to learn to dance, and go into young 
company. The little fellow did not know with what 
manner of people he was dealing. 

When the evening for the prayer-meeting came 
my sister Rachel, then thirteen or fourteen years of 
age, invited him to go. He did so, and saw and 
heard what were to him new and wonderful things. 
He had never heard a woman pray. Several of the 
female members of the class led in the devotions with 
a propriety and a power which surprised him ; bui 
when he heard his young niece begin to pray he was 
amazed. It was the effectual, fervent prayer which 
prevails. She gave God glory for his boundless love 
to sinners ; she thanked God for the hope of heaven ; 



30 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

she asked for strength to resist the allurements of 
the world ; she prayed fervently for those still in the 
way of death ; and at last, in a still higher strain of 
earnestness and pathos, implored God's blessing upon 
her " dear uncle." The little fiddler melted like wax; 
before the fire, his flowing tears testifying that his 
heart was reached. He went from the place con- 
vinced and convicted, and in a few days had a clear 
and satisfactory evidence of the Divine favor. 

From this time Isaac Collar, " Little Isaac," as 
every body called him, lived a life of faith and of 
active usefulness. Being only a little boy in size 
and physical strength, he became the inseparable 
companion of the boys of the family. His influence 
over us was great and salutary. He was social, 
cheerful, kind, well-informed, and not destitute of 
wit and humor. We all loved him. His compan- 
ionable qualities drew us to him, and his good prin- 
ciples reinforced ours in many a time of temptation. 
After several years' residence he returned to Con- 
necticut. We shall meet him again, however, in 
the course of this narrative. 

It would seem, from the foregoing description of 
our humble life, that a very small circle formed the 
horizon of my early days. This impression is cor- 
rect, and yet we got an occasional glimpse beyond. 
I had been to Cooperstown once before, and had 
been greatly impressed with the glories of the place ; 
but in 1808 I made a journey thither with my father 
and brother Luther, to see what was long referred to 
as " the hangin'." A man, whose name was Arnold, 
had been sentenced to be hung for whipping a child 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 31 

to death. Popular indignation was strong. A great 
concourse of people assembled on the hill-side east of 
the outlet of the lake, and, with lively satisfaction, 
waited to see the wretched man die. He had pro- 
fessed to find pardon at the hands of his Maker, and 
had taken the sacrament in prison that morning. 
At the appointed hour he was brought out and 
seated upon his coffin under the gallows, while the 
Rev. Isaac Lewis preached his funeral sermon from 
the words, " This day shalt thou be with me in Para- 
dise." The sermon being concluded, the sheriff, in 
the awful silence which ensued, took hold of the rope 
which was about the prisoner's neck, and, glancing at 
the hook which dangled from the beam, ordered him 
to stand up, and then, instead of attaching the rope, 
drew a paper from his pocket and read the govern- 
or's reprieve. 

Wild excitement followed. Arnold fell as if he 
had been shot through the heart. Women shrieked ; 
some of them wept aloud ; some fainted ; men raged 
and swore. The criminal was so detested for his 
cruelty that his escape from execution provoked a 
storm of fury. So indignant were the people that 
some rough fellows captured a dog, named him " Ar- 
nold," and hung him on the gallows which had failed 
to do justice to his namesake. The story is not a 
pleasant one to tell, but it shows how things were 
done in that day, and it made a lasting impression 
on me. Arnold died in Sing Sing prison. Dr. 
Lewis I became well acquainted with in New York 
city nearly half a century afterward. 

After Isaac Collar left us I was more exposed to 



32 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

evil influences. My parents and sisters did what 
they could to save me from danger, but I sometimes 
fell into the company of bad boys. There was a 
tavern on each side of us, where, as is always the 
case, " lewd fellows of the baser sort " congregated 
to drink, dance, and run horses. I did not learn to 
copy their vicious conduct; but I often stole away 
from home and looked on, and the influence on my 
moral feelings and general character was any thing 
but good. Evil examples without, and a depraved 
nature, within, combined their power to render me 
regardless of duty and of God. 

Another thing, innocent enough in itself, became 
indirectly a snare to me. I was exceedingly fond of 
martial music, and when but a boy became an adept 
with the drumsticks. There was general expectation 
of a war with England, and this gave new interest to 
"training days," and all manner of military opera- 
tions. My skill in drumming drew me into notice, 
and brought me into military associations. I en- 
tered into these things with boyish enthusiasm, and 
found more enjoyment in martial displays and field 
music than in any thing else. I often had proof that 
my parents and sisters were deeply concerned about 
me. The girls feared that I would come to some 
bad end ; my father doubted whether I would ever 
" make any thing ;" while my dear mother, always 
hopeful, was confident that I would come out right. 

In fact, there was good ground for both apprehen- 
sion and hope. I was fond of fun and excitement, 
and often got into mischief, and sometimes sin ; but 
my conscience was always tender, and often troubled 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 33 

me, and I was more sorry for my errors than my best 
friends suspected. Still I blame no one for judging 
me harshly, because my faults were visible, and my 
troubles of conscience I carefully hid ; and I have no 
right to complain that others misunderstood me while 
I was deliberately misrepresenting myself. I men- 
tion this merely to draw two conclusions, which may 
be of service to others. First, Wayward children 
must not complain that they get no credit for good 
impulses and good resolutions which they do their 
best to conceal. Secondly, Parents whose children 
incline to be wayward must not be in haste to give 
them up as hopeless. 

On two occasions I came near losing my life 
through my lack of wisdom. My father was build- 
ing a new housfe, the third which he erected in 
Middlefield, and a frame edifice this time. The 
mechanics, according to the custom of that day, had 
a regular supply of liquor. One day they prepared 
some punch, and invited me to partake with them. 
I did so till my head became wofully unsteady. To- 
tally unconscious of the state I was in, I must needs 
clamber up to the top of the building, and as I was 
in the act of falling, a friendly hand caught me. I 
was conscious of nothing more till the next morn- 
ing, when I learned the whole sad story from my 
deeply grieved mother. She had spent the entire 
night in watching over me. She laid the chief 
blame on the men. I blamed and heartily despised 
myself I am happy to add that this was my first 
and last experience of the kind. 

The second case of peril was connected with a 
3 



34 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

violation of the sabbath, and occurred when I was 
about thirteen years old. My brother Andrew and I 
had been left in charge of the younger children 
while the oldest members of the family went to 
meeting. A sudden temptation seized me to leave 
our charge for a ramble in the woods, and I prevailed 
upon Andrew to go. We passed over the hill, crossed 
Red Creek, and entered a grove of heavy timber. 
Here we found another boy, who had a pack of cards. 
He shufHed his cards and offered to teach us how to 
play, but our consciences were already uneasy, and 
we declined, and left him. 

We collected a few beech-nuts, and then started 
for home. As we were returning, dense clouds sud- 
denly darkened the heavens, and a furious tornado 
swept down upon us. The roar of the wind, the 
groaning of the forest, the blinding dash of the rain 
would have alarmed us in the best of times, but now 
our guilty consciences rendered them absolutely ap- 
palling. We fled in an agony of fear, the wind at 
times almost lifting us from our feet. Pausing for a 
moment behind a tree to get breath, we again started, 
and had gone but a few steps when an immense 
hemlock blew down with a crash and buried us with 
its foliage, the massy trunk striking the earth within 
three or four feet of me, and the great branches stretch- 
ing all around us. Extricating ourselves from the 
fallen tree, and leaving the woods, we lay down in a 
little hollow in a field. From this place of refuge we 
looked out and saw the storm tear through the for- 
est^ the trees falling in all directions. 

The tempest passed away as suddenly as it came, 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 35 

and we hurried home, drenched with rain, terrified 
by the fearful scenes through which we had passed, 
and our hearts burdened with guilt. 

" I will never run away with you again on Sun- 
day," said Andrew. 

" O if we had been killed ! " I exclaimed. 

We reached home before our parents returned 
from meeting. They knew nothing of our absence 
from the house, and we told them nothing ; but for 
weeks the affair harrowed up my soul. I dreaded to 
pass the place where the tree fell upon us, and sel- 
dom did so, although it often lay directly in my path. 
Our escape I regarded as almost miraculous. As 
near as I could estimate it, we paused behind the 
maple just long enough to escape being crushed by 
the heavy trunk of the hemlock. The idea of being 
killed in the act of breaking the sabbath made my 
very bones shake, and -many were the vows I made 
to lead a new life. Often did I fear to close my eyes 
at night until I had promised God that if he would 
spare me to see another day I would do better. Of 
all this, however, I revealed nothing to others. 

In the autumn of 181 1 my parents made a visit to 
their old home in Connecticut, and on their return 
brought with them my Grandmother Collar and Un- 
cle Isaac, both of whom remained members of our 
family till God called them to the home above. 
Since the time of his first visit to us my uncle had 
learned to make shoes, which avocation he mingled 
with his other employments during the remainder of 
his active life. By using his tools I learned a little 
of the trade myself. 



35 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

About this time my father purchased another tract 
of land, which became to us boys a sort of enchanted 
ground, and figures largely among my early recol- 
lections. It was about two miles distant, on the 
mountain southeast of Otsego Lake. It consisted 
chiefly of woodland ; but a few acres had been 
cleared and well cultivated. Here my father made 
his hay, cut his winter's fuel, and burned the char- 
coal for his forge. A little log-cabin had been built 
against the face of a smooth, perpendicular rock. 
The manufacture of the coal required considerable 
care. Wood was piled, in the form of a pyramid, 
five or six feet high, and then covered with sods, 
grass side down, and earth added, till the inclosure 
was perfect, except a little place at the bottom, where 
the fire was applied, and another at the top, through 
which the smoke escaped. The process took about 
ten days, and the burning pile must be closely 
watched all the time to keep the earth wall in repair, 
and the fire just right. If the lower aperture became 
closed by the sliding earth, the fire went out ; if it 
burned too fast, it turned the wood to ashes. 

In this wild spot we spent joyous days and nights 
with our dear father, the kindest hearted and most 
companionable man that ever breathed. It was to 
us what Robinson Crusoe's island is to every boy 
that reads the story. The tools needed for our, work, 
straw and blankets for our beds, a basket of provis- 
ions, a fife and a drum, were our equipments for a 
sojourn at "the other place." When the daily labor 
was ended, and night came on, we kindled a fire in 
the rocky chimney, which filled the cabin with a 



Ancestors — Early Youth. 37 

ruddy glow, set down the apples or the green corn to 
roast, and gave ourselves up to innocent mirth. 
There was no neighbor to be disturbed, and so we 
laughed, and sung, and shouted, we made the hollow 
woods resound with martial music, and, in short, rev- 
eled in unlimited noise. 

When our surplus spirits had thus expended them- 
selves, we planted our sentinel at the burning piles, 
and lying down to rest, listened for a little space to 
the voices of night in the forest, the cry of the owl, 
the barking of the fox, the moan of the raccoon, and 
then knew no more till the morning light, and the 
cheery, paternal voice awoke us to another happy 
day. 

It was not only in the summer months that our 
labors summoned us to "the other place." In the 
winter we drew home our firewood over the snow. 
In the spring we made sugar from the sap of the 
maples. This was a pleasant but busy season. The 
tapping of the trees, the regular rounds made to 
empty the vessels, the filling of the kettles, the 
keeping up of the fire, the watching of the process 
as the transparent sap first changed into syrup, and 
then into sugar ; and all this in the woods, fast bud- 
ding into life and beauty, formed an annual festival 
scene whose coming we anticipated with joy. It 
was, in fact, a fortunate thing for us boys that this 
secluded spot became a part of my father's posses- 
sions. No human habitation was near, no public 
road approached it, and when we were there we were 
alone in the presence of nature and of nature's God. 
The grandeur of forest and hill and lake was around 



38 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

us, and the enticements of an evil world were fai 
away. 

I often desired, in after years, to visit this loved 
spot, which looks so beautiful among my youthful 
memories, but for a long period the wish was not 
gratified. At last, however, the opportunity came. 
In June, 1873, Bishop Peck and myself paid a visit 
to our native place, and I again saw the spot where 
I spent so many happy hours. The half century 
which had elapsed had changed it somewhat. The 
old cabin is gone, but the perpendicular rock is there, 
still bearing the marks of the fires which we kindled 
against it. The hills and the lake are as in other 
days, though apparently reduced in dimensions, nor 
has the scenery yet lost all its original wildness. 
Would that every family of children had a home like 
this, where at least a part of the year could be spent 
away from the corruptions of town life and the exac- 
tions and frivolities of fashion ! 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 39 



CHAPTER II. 

CONVERSION YOUTH CALL TO THE MINISTRY. 

AS I began to approach manhood I became a 
somewhat valuable member of the family. I 
could aid in the farm-work, make shoes in the one 
shop, and "blow and strike" in the other, and in- 
deed, do almost any thing within the limits of our 
narrow business ; but I had no fixed plan, no definite 
aim, for the years to come. I alternated from shop 
to shop, and thence to the field, as my services were 
required, but felt no preference, and made no choice. 
My father, seeing my indifference, doubted whether 
I would succeed in any thing. I did not dream of 
the line of life which I afterward pursued. I had 
high aspirations, and built many castles in the air. 
I was not content with my lot, but I did not see how 
it might be improved. What Providence might have 
in store for me was to me a profound mystery. My 
conscience was troubled, and I knew that I ought to 
be a Christian, but that was about as far as I could see 
into the future in regard to either duty or destiny. 

My mind began to be the subject of religious im- 
pressions as soon as I became capable of religious 
ideas. I recollect being in a prayer-meeting when I 
was about four years old, and feeling that I was a 
sinner, and I wept at the thought that I did not 
possess that which rendered those about me so happy. 



40 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

The sermons which I heard often impressed, and my 
father's prayers in the family greatly moved me. My 
mother's admonitions and tears were always more 
than I could endure. My sister Elizabeth sought 
Christ at a camp-meeting held at Mindon, and I was 
powerfully awakened. to a sense of my need. Many 
a time, during the years which, I presume, seemed to 
others to be spent in careless, boyish mirth and m- 
difFerence, I was greatly troubled in spirit, wept in 
secret and formed resolutions which, if permanent, 
would have led me to a different life. 

In 1812 Ebenezer White and Ralph -Lanningwere 
appointed to our circuit. Father White's first sermon 
in our neighb orhood was a searching one ; and his 
examination of the members in class-meeting was 
close and personal. I did not hear the sermon, but 
I learned, from what I heard of it, that a deep impres- 
sion was made. On his second round, four weeks 
after, he came to our house. I well remember the 
conversation. He asked my sister to comb his 
hair, and while she was doing it, he talked with my 
parents. 

" Brother," said he, " how many children have 
you .? " 

" Eleven," was the reply. 

" And how many of them enjoy religion .' " 

"The three oldest belong to Society," said my 
father. 

Again the faithful pastor asked : " HaVe you 
given all your children to God in baptism ? " 

" I have not," said my father. 

" Why not .? " 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 41 

To tliis my father replied, " The four born in Con- 
necticut were baptized there ; the others have not 
been." 

" Well," said Father White, " it is your duty to 
have them baptized." 

My father responded with emotion, " Some of 
them have grown up in sin and folly, and are not 
proper subjects of baptism." 

I was the oldest of those not baptized, and I felt 
that the remark was intended for me, and, worst of 
all, was true. 

" Brother," continued the preacher, " you must 
have those baptized which are still in infancy, and 
pray for the others." 

I had been sitting near enough to hear all this, but 
at this stage of the conversation I quietly left the 
room. My sister Mary, eleven years of age, heard the 
conversation, and was deeply affected by it. She and 
my brother Andrew began to seek the Saviour. The 
next Sabbath evening the prayer-meeting was a 
time of much interest and feeling. The two children 
were made the subjects of special prayer, and I in- 
ferred, from certain expressions of those engaged in 
the exercises, that they professed to have found peace. 
The next day, while Andrew and I were at the 
barn, he asked me if I did not want religion .? I an- 
swered in the affirmative, and then asked him if he 
had experienced it. He replied that he thought he 
had. I told him that I hoped he would hold out to 
the end, adding that I would never throw the least 
hinderance in his way. " That is all very well," he 
replied ; " but you must have religion for yourself, or 



42 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

you will go to hell ! " This broke me down. I left 
him, and went behind the barn, and poured out a 
flood of tears. 

The next Sabbath evening the prayer-meeting 
seemed to have only ordinary interest. It closed at 
the usual hour, and I went home, being among the 
first to leave the house. A number lingered, as if 
unwilling to go. Two or three young ladies began 
to weep, and asked for the prayers of God's people. 
The meeting began again with wonderful power. 
Some fell prostrate on the floor, crying for mercy, 
and others shouted aloud the praises of God. Six or 
seven persons professed conversion before the meet- 
ing closed. All this was told me, and added greatly 
to the conflict of my mind. Hearing that another 
meeting had been appointed for the next Thursday 
evening, I resolved to seek the Lord publicly at that 
time. When the day came I thought of nothing but 
my sins, the salvation I needed, and the purpose I 
had formed. I mourned, I prayed ; I had some hope 
of mercy, and some fears that I would not find it. 
Being alone, I began to sing one of our old familiar 
penitential hymns : — 

" Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive ; 
Let a repenting rebel live." 

Having sung a verse or two of this, I changed to 
one of another character : 

" O how happy are they, 

"Who the Saviour obey, 
And have laid up their treasure above ; 

Tongue can never express 

The sweet comfort and peace 
Of a soul in its earliest love." 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 43 

To my surprise I found myself entering into the 
joyous spirit of the hymn. My heart was melted ; I 
felt strangely buoyant, and almost ready to exclaim 
aloud, " Glory to God ! " I said to myself, " What 
change is this ? Is this what I have been seeking ? 
It may be that God has pardoned my sins. I will go 
and tell my dear mother how I feel." 

I went into the house with this design, but my 
courage failed. I began to doubt, and again I sunk 
into a state of darkness and sorrow. My mind re- 
verted to my resolution to go to the meeting that 
evening and openly seek Christ, and I again deter- 
mined to do it. When evening came I went to the 
meeting, calling on an intimate associate on my way, 
to propose to him that we should begin together. 
To my surprise, I found him ready at once. We did 
as we agreed to do ; but when we bowed in prayer, 
and fervent supplications went up in our behalf, and 
a sacred influence seemed to fall upon the whole as- 
sembly, and I felt that God was there, I was not 
conscious of that deep conviction which had weighed 
me down for days. 

At the close of the meeting the people gathered 
about us to inquire how we felt. My friend was 
happy, and responded with confidence. I was at a 
loss what to think. I replied that I felt no burden 
of guilt, but did not know but that I had lost my 
convictions. "Ah," said a devoted woman, whom I 
knew and greatly respected, " the Lord has blessed 
you ; I thought so." And she laughed and wept as 
she made the remark. " Well," thought I, " she 
knows. This strange calm is not hardness of heart. 



44 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

but peace." And yet I felt, not exactly disappointed, 
but that I had been led in a way which was contrary 
to my expectations. I looked for what was termed 
a "powerful conversion." I did not experience it, 
-but from that memorable day I have tried to serve 
the Lord. I believe that God forgave my sins in the 
morning, while I was alone, singing the prayerful 
confession of Watts, and the joys of faith as deline- 
ated by Charles Wesley. The day named was Thurs- 
day, the 1 2th of November, 1812. I was then a lit- 
tle over fifteen years of age. 

The next day Father White preached a glorious 
sermon from Heb. xi, 24, 25. His words were 
sweeter to rne than the honey-comb. I thought that 
I never before heard preaching. ' After the sermon 
baptism was administered to quite a number of per- 
sons, younger and older, and among them the seven 
of our family born in the State of New York. Four 
of these were baptized on profession of faith, and 
three as infants. About a dozen of the converts 
were received as probationers in the Church. My 
feelings throughout the day had been characterized 
more by tenderness than joy. But on my way home 
alone I began again to sing Charles Wesley's exult- 
ant lines : 

" O how happy are they, 
Who the Saviour obey, 
And have laid up their treasure above." 

In the midst of my solitary song I felt a sudden 
gush of joy, and I shouted aloud, " Glory to God, 
glory to God in the highest." From that day I felt 
myself one with God's people. 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 45 

About two weeks after my conversion I attended 
a quarterly meeting in Mindon, a distance of twelve 
miles. The weather was cold, with snow on the 
ground. The meeting, nevertheless, was held in a 
barn. The floor was arranged with rude seats, and 
there was a platform of some kind, perhaps a work- 
bench, for the preachers. William Case was the 
presiding elder, and Ebenezer White, Ralph Lan- 
ning, and Jonathan Hustis were present. The pre- 
siding elder was in the prime of life, certainly not a 
profound preacher, but earnest and sympathetic. 
All loved him because of the fervor of his piety and 
the kindness of his heart. Father White was the 
only venerable-looking man among the preachers. 
He was not old, but the gravity of his character and 
deportment secured for him the title of " Father." 
In his sermons he made great use of " M'Ewen on the 
Types." a work which he had mastered, and could 
almost repeat from memory. His sermons on Moses, 
Joseph, and portions of Solomon's Song, were thought 
wonderful. He. preached what the people pronounced 
great sermons on his own name, Ebenezer. 

Ralph Lanning was a young man, then in the 
second year of his ministry. He gave evidence of 
an attention to books unusual in those times, and 
was an acceptable preacher, and a very pleasant, 
companionable man. 

Jonathan Hustis was thought to be at the head of 
the younger class of preachers. He was tall and 
spare, with a light complexion, a clear, shrill voice, 
and a pleasant address. 

The love-feast was a season of great interest. I 



46 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

had never been in one before, as I could not pass 
the examination which was always had at the door. 
It was to me a great occasion, and the impressions 
which it made were deep and powerful. My part of 
the exercises was small. After waiting and trem- 
bling for some time, I rose and said, "Two weeks 
ago last Thursday God converted my soul." To this 
brief speech Father White responded with uncom- 
mon fervor, " Praise the Lord ! " and there was an 
outburst of exultant exclamations from every part of 
the assembly. I felt overwhelmed with the tide of 
emotion. 

Shortly after our little revival Father White es- 
tablished a class for catechetical instruction, com- 
posed of the young people who had recently joined 
the Society. His regular appointment for preaching 
was once in four weeks, in the evening, and our class 
met in the afternoon. We were seated in a row, and 
our venerable pastor, with a copy of the Catechism in 
his hand, stood behind a chair and examined us, 
adding comments of various kinds as he proceeded. 
He was entirely too serious to admit pleasantry, or 
even invite questions on the part of the class. We 
answered timidly, and then listened to' his remarks 
as we would to a sermon. He often made very 
pointed appeals to us, urging us to go on to a more 
perfect knowledge of Divine things. 

I mention 'this to show that faithful instruction 
was not unknown in those early days of Methodism. 
Sabbath-schools had not been introduced into our 
part of the country, but the children and youth were 
not forgotten. I here record my gratitude to God 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 47 

for the information which I gained in the preacher's 
class. From the Catechism, as explained and illus- 
trated by our venerated pastor, I learned the funda- 
mental doctrines of Christianity in their connection, 
with the Scripture proofs, and my mind became 
more imbued with Divine truth than ever before. 
Thus I commenced the study of theology. 

During the latter part of the winter of 18 12-13 
my Grandmother Collar died in holy triumph. She 
had connected herself in her youth with the Congre- 
gational Church ; but after the conversion of her son 
Isaac she joined the Methodists. She was an intel- 
ligent, high-minded woman, and in person as straight 
at the age of seventy years as an arrow, and moving 
about the house as lightly as a girl of eighteen. Her 
piety was uniform and her life consistent. 

In the spring of 18 13 Father White was called to 
his reward on high. The Church and the whole 
community mourned, and the young converts, of 
whom there were many on the circuit, felt like or- 
phans. When the people met at the prayer-meeting 
or in class allusions to him were frequent. His ser- 
mons, his prayers, his remarks were quoted, and in 
prayer it was no uncommon thing to hear an earnest, 
tearful petition for grace to persevere and meet Fa- 
ther White in heaven. Thus his name was long " as 
ointment poured forth." Ralph Lanning was re- 
turned to the circuit as preacher in charge. He was 
a frequent guest at my father's, and his conversation 
was a great benefit to me. I felt at liberty to ask 
him about any matter that interested me — any ques- 
tion of doctrine, or the interpretation of Scripture, 



45 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

and always found him ready to communicate what 
he knew. 

During the summer of 1813 I attended a camp- 
meeting at Mindon. These forest gatherings had 
then some features which are now unknown. Those 
having charge of the preparations would select a spot 
in the dense woods, and proceed to clear away the 
bushes and small trees, piling the brush around the 
encampment, and forming with it an impassable 
fence sometimes ten or twelve feet high. Within 
this inclosure the tents, perhaps a hundred in num- 
ber, would be pitched. When the meetings began 
great multitudes of people would throng the place. 
Among these would come an occasional party of wild 
young men, " lewd fellows of the baser sort," noisy, 
reckless, and often intoxicated, and make a disturb- 
ance. To keep such as these in awe, " guards " were 
appointed, whose duty it was to repress all lawless 
proceedings, and keep the whole encampment in 
good order. Now and then the guards would be 
compelled to seize some frolicsome or pugnacious 
youth, conduct him to the gate of the brush strong- 
hold, and hand him over to the magistrate, or dismiss 
him with an emphatic admonition. 

With interruptions and bloodless skirmishes of this 
sort occurring from time to time, the preachers and 
the Church-members carried on the campaign, preach- 
ing, exhorting, singing, praying, with a zeal that never 
cooled, and lungs that seemed never_ to grow weary. 
This camp-meeting at Mindon was attended with nota- 
ble effects, some of which were novel to me. One night 
the services were continued till the morning dawned. 



Conversion — Yonth — Call to the Ministry. 49 

There were many instances of the curious experience 
which has been termed religious ecstasy. Perhaps 
while engaged in fervent prayer or joyous song a man 
would fall prostrate, his eyes fixed, his whole form 
rigid, and remain thus sometimes for several hours. 
When he revived he usually was in the same glow of 
religious emotion with which his singular experience 
began, and felt no special ill effect, physically, from 
what he had undergone. Unconverted persons, 
deeply convinced of sin, not unfrequently "fell," a's 
the current phrase expressed it, " under the power of 
God." These generally remained conscious, but 
physically powerless. The mind, however, still re- 
mained busy with the great thoughts of God and 
eternity and the need of the Divine favor, and often 
while the lips were silent, and the powers of volun- 
tary motion were suspended, the soul passed through 
a great moral crisis, surrendered to the Divine rule> 
trusted in Christ ; and when the physical effect of 
the intense mental conflict began to subside, the first 
words uttered were exultant praise and thanksgiving. 
However we may reason or doubt in regard to these 
phenomena, one thing is certain, they occurred in 
connection with genuine religious emotions, and a 
truly Divine work. Some of our soundest, most re- 
liable and devoted members of Society passed through 
this singular experience, and some of the convicted, 
who were thus stricken down, became faithful and 
consistent followers of Christ, and remained such to 
the end. 

I saw cases of the kind at this camp-meeting, and 
leaped to the conclusion that they were indicative pf 



so Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

great grace. I earnestly desired to share the joy and 
the benefit, and on the last day of the meeting fan- 
cied that I detected new sensations, and was on the 
eve of the coveted experience ; but the strange feel- 
ing, whether real or imaginary, passed away, and my 
wishes were not gratified. I afterward saw that the 
desire was an error ; that while faith is essential, and 
joy desirable, these abnormal physical effects of in- 
tense religious emotion are not to be courted, but 
resisted. 

At this same meeting I first saw a young man 
who became my life-long friend. Some little tirne 
before, the Rev. Charles Giles held a camp-meeting at 
Deerfield. The rain poured incessantly all through 
the week ; but few people gathered, and the whole 
thing was set down as one of those failures which it 
is supposed the Lord suffers to occur occasionally to 
try the faith of his pfeople. It was stated, indeed, 
that there was one conversion, but it was that of a 
boy that nobody knew. The Rev. Mr. Giles had 
preached in the rain to a little group of discouraged 
people, and the young stranger heard the sermon, 
and was thoroughly convicted. He crept into a shel- 
tered corner of the brush fence, and there prayed 
alone all night. In the morning he came out of his 
novel retreat, praising the Lord, and full, of zeal for 
the cause of religion. ' 

Coming to the Mindon camp he was present at a 
prayer-meeting in the Middlefield tent, and in the 
course of the service offered a prayer that mightily 
stirred the hearts of the people. " That boy will 
make a preacher," said my mother, and her sympa- 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 51 

thies were at once enlisted in his behalf. Finding 
that he was a total stranger, and that he had come 
to attend the camp-meeting, bringing a bag of pro- 
visions, which had been spoiled by the rain, she in- 
vited him to our table, and told him at night to find 
a place, if he could, among her boys. He became 
thus an inmate of our tent, and thus began my ac- 
quaintance with the Rev. Dr. John Dempster. For 
many reasons this Mindon camp-meeting was very 
interesting and profitable to me, and to this day my 
recollections of it are very vivid. 

My education, such as it was, at this time de- 
pended full as much upon my intercourse with intel- 
ligent and pious people as upon books. To Ralph 
Lanning's aid in this direction I have already al- 
luded. He had a clear, logical mind, and a good 
memory, and more than ordinary ability to solve the- 
ological questions. His frequent visits at our house 
were of great value to me. 

Books in our region were few, and there were no 
religious periodicals in all the land. Among the 
family treasures in my father's house were some of 
the early Methodist publications, such as Wesley's 
Sermons, Wesley's Life of Fletcher, the Life of John 
Nelson, Baxter's Saints' Rest, Alleine's Alarm, Law's 
Serious Call, and the Methodist Discipline, contain- 
ing the Doctrinal Tracts. My father and mother, 
my Uncle Collar and Sister Elizabeth, were all good 
readers, and when we had the good fortune to secure 
any thing that was specially interesting, it was read 
in full family convention, generally in the evening. 
What a glorious time we had reading the Life of 



52 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Benjamin Abbott ! What notes and comments, what 
exclamations of wonder and pleasure there were ! I 
remember well how sorry I was that the book is so 
small. These family readings not only created high 
religious feeling at the time, but furnished us with 
themes for thought and conversation long afterward. 
My Sister Elizabeth possessed a fine mind and an 
ardent thirst for knowledge, and it must be confessed 
that she outran the rest of the children in mental 
improvement, and, without any assumption on her 
part, she grew into a family instructor. To me, 
mentally and religiously, she was an invaluable 
aid. 

In the spring of 1814 my father sold his property 
at Middlefield and removed to Hamilton Township, 
Madison County. Our new home was in a region 
which had been settled about twenty years. The 
people lived in log-houses, and by far the greater 
portion of the original forest was still undisturbed. 
There were no religious services held nearer than 
three miles, and the nearest church, which was Pres- 
byterian, was five miles distant. My father began 
immediately to hold service in his own house, twice 
every Sabbath. We had a prayer-meeting in the 
morning, followed by class-meeting, and in the even- 
ing prayer-meeting again. Our meetings were well 
attended, and there were indications of deep religious 
interest. ' My father, my mother, Isaac Collar, and 
Elizabeth, were most active in the exercises ; Luther 
and Andrew took some part, and I prayed in public 
and spoke in class, but attempted nothing further. 

When we had been thus engaged about a month 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 53 

we got into communication with the preachers on 
Chenango Circuit, one of whose appointments was 
about three miles distant, and the preacher in charge, 
the Rev. Loring Grant, came to our house, organized 
a class of thirteen persons, eight of whom were mem- 
bers of our family, and established preaching once 
in two weeks. Over the formation of this class Mr. 
Grant and his colleague, Elisha Bibbins, rejoiced as 
those who find great spoil. 

I was now placed in new circumstances. In the 
Society in Middlefield there were so many old and 
gifted members that there was no need of pressing 
the younger ones to the front. Now, all were needed. 
One of the circuit preachers was with us every two 
weeks, on Wednesday, but we still kept up our Sab- 
bath services ; and to do it devolved almost wholly 
upon .the members of the family. The people flocked 
to the house, and often seemed to be deeply im- 
pressed. Several marked conversions took place, 
and our number began to increase. 

At the next session of the Conference, our valued 
friend, Ralph Lanning, was appointed to the circuit, 
with Nathaniel Reeder as the junior preacher. The 
visits of Mr. Lanning at our house were very pleas- 
ant and profitable to me, and he was to us all a 
brother beloved. 

During the summer, I was suddenly seized with 
an overwhelming conviction that I had something 
more to do in the Church than I had previously con- 
templated. The impression followed me constant- 
ly, and at times my mind was painfully agitated. 
It was in my thoughts by day, and my dreams by 



54 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

night. For weeks I labored under a crushing bur- 
den. I knew my inability, and yet felt the obliga- 
tion. I could never perform the holy work, and yet 
I must. Feeling that I could not live much longer 
without counsel, or at least sympathy, from some 
source, I resolved to reveal what was passing in my 
mind to my mother ; and after one or two ineffectual 
efforts to do it, at last gathered courage to tell her. To 
my surprise she replied at once, "My son, I know 
all about it." She then gave me advice which greatly 
relieved my mind, counseling me to be very faithful 
in the performance of private religious duty ; and in 
regard to things of a more public nature, to leave all 
to the direction of the Head of the Church, and fol- 
low on as he should clearly lead.. 

My father and Brother Luther spent the next win- 
ter (1814-15) away from home, and the charge of 
the class fell to me. I also frequently conducted the 
Sabbath service, and thus gradually gained confi- 
dence before the little congregation that met in my 
father's house. Mr. Lanning often called upon me 
to speak at the close of his sermons. In June I was 
licensed to exhort, and began to hold meetings in 
various places, as opportunities offered. All the time 
which I could command for the purpose I devoted to 
study. 

In the autumn John Dempster again visited us. 
Since we saw him he had been licensed as a local 
preacher, and having offered himself for itinerant 
service, had been directed to visit the territory north 
of us, which was not included within the bounds of 
any charge, and there, if possible, form a new circuit. 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 55 

Our house lying in his way to his unknown field, he 
sent us word that he would reach our place on a cer- 
tain day, and, if we desired it, would preach. I went 
three miles to meet him, and found him coming in 
our direction on foot, over a muddy road, and poorly 
shod for the journey. He had in his hand a diminu- 
tive bundle tied up in a handkerchief Our hasty 
notices called together a large congregation, and he 
preached what I consider, to-day, one of the ablest, 
most powerful sermons which I ever heard him de- 
liver. It was clear, scriptural, well arranged, full of 
thought, and delivered fluently, and with great ear- 
nestness and fervor. Many in the audience trembled 
under his eloquent appeals ; some seemed frightened 
and left the house in haste ; and one young woman, 
who had been esteemed very careless, if not frivolous, 
was awakened under the sermon, and subsequently 
joined the class. I accompanied him on his journey 
for two days, and heard him preach each evening. 

The next winter (1815-16) I attended school. My 
teacher was Reuben Reynolds, then, like myself, a 
licensed exhorter in the Church, now an honored 
member of the Northern New York Conference. 
Beginning to appreciate the necessity of an educa- 
tion, I thirsted for knowledge ; and yet nothing be- 
yond the mere elements of it was within my reach. 
The Methodist Episcopal Church at that time did 
not possess a college, seminary, or school of any de- 
scription. Few of the preachers had received even 
what is now deemed a good common-school training, 
and the demand for laborers in the Gospel field was 
so urgent that young men, who had not even studied 



S6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

English grammar, were continually thrust out into 
the work, to study and improve as best they could. 
Thanks to Reuben Reynolds, and my Sister Eliza- 
beth, for something of a foundation on which to build 
in coming years. 

In March, 1816, the Rev. Loring Grant, then trav- 
eling on Lebanon Circuit, exchanged with Elijah 
King, our junior preacher, for one round of the four 
weeks' circuit, and visited us. He invited me to go 
with him to one of his appointments, and on the 
way, told me that he heard that I expected to offer 
myself to the Conference at the next session. I was 
surprised,' and told him that I had said nothing of the 
kind to any one ; that I did not know that I could 
leave home, or that I should be received if I offered 
myself. He urged me to go into the work at once, 
and proposed that I should travel with him on Leba- 
non Circuit till Conference. I replied that I had no 
authority to preach, but was licensed as an exhorter 
only. " That will make no difference," said he, " you 
can preach on your exhorter's license till quarterly 
meeting. Do as John the Baptist did, preach many 
things in your exhortation." The case seemed a 
great deal clearer to him than it did to me*; but 
I finally agreed to lay the matter before my father, 
and meet him again, a few days after, at the house of 
the presiding elder, and report the result. 

I returned home, and dreading to speak to my 
father, told my mother and sister what Mr. Grant 
proposed. They favored the project, and agreed to 
broach the subject to my father. He opposed, pos- 
sibly from mingled motives. He was beginning to 



Conversion — Yotith — Call to the Ministry. 57 

feel the weight of years. Luther was now of age, 
and about to leave home, and I would be needed to 
lead in the farm-work. It would not be convenient 
for him to furnish me with a horse and outfit for 
travel. Moreover, he thought the movement pre- 
mature. He was a good judge of sermons, and 
he thought, from what he had heard of my perform- 
ances, that I was not prepared to go forth as a 
preacher. He was really afraid, I imagine, that if I 
made the attempt it would result in a palpable, if 
not disgraceful, failure. But my mother and sister 
argued the case strongly. He was a truly pious 
man, anxious to do right, and at last yielded. 

I met Mr. Grant at North Norwich, at the house 
of Rev. George Harmon, the presiding elder. After 
talking with me for some time, and examining the 
plans of my friend, the elder appointed me to labor 
on the circuit, for the remainder of the conference 
year, with L. Grant and J. Hamilton, with the pro- 
viso that I should receive no salary for my services. 

The first day of April, i8i6, was to me a memo- 
rable day. For a week or two previous my mother 
and sister had been preparing my clothing, and 
on that morning I was to leave home. The hour 
came, and my horse was brought to the door, and my 
saddle-bags and valise adjusted in their places. My 
father was absent, as I fancied, from design. I first 
took the hand of my dear mother, who looked at me 
with a thoughtful and yet smiling face, and said, 
" Farewell, my son ; may God be with you, and bless 
you." My Sister Elizabeth, who had been to me, all 
my life, an angel of light and love, seemed in unusu- 



SB Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ally good spirits, and, taking my hand, said, almost 
playfully, " Farewell, George, be a good boy." I re- 
sponded, rather faintly, " I will try," and mounting 
my horse, rode slowly away. But who can describe my 
emotions. I looked around at each familiar object, 
the house, the barn, the trees, the fields, and said in 
my heart, " Farewell, all. I am going, I know not 
whither, nor what is to befall me." My course was 
toward the west, and before evening I was in a 
strange land and among strangers. Thus, in the 
nineteenth year of my age, I began a journey which 
continued fifty-seven years. 

As I had been directed, I filled several of Mr. 
Grant's appointments, commencing on the turnpike 
between Plymouth and De Ruyter, proceeding to 
Julius Hitchcock's, in Lebanon,* thence to Wilhams's, 
two miles south of Cazenovia, and on Saturday met 
Mr. Grant at Keeney's Settlement. Every-where 
the people inquired after Mr. Grant. I felt ill quali- 
fied to take his place, but was every-where treated 
with great kindness. On Sabbath morning Mr. Grant 
preached at the Settlement, and in the afternoon, at 
Keeler's, insisted on my preaching. The congrega- 
tion was large, and I had never attempted a sermon 
in the presence of a traveling preacher, and the very 
idea of it filled me with fear and trembling. Still, I 
could not decline. I took a text, stumbled along 
some thirty minutes, which seemed to me an age, and 

* The father of Rev. Luke Hitchcock, D.D., of the Western Book 
Concern. My friend, the doctor, was then an active and somewhat 
noisy boy of two or three years of age, whom I well remember as be- 
ing no particular help to me when engaged in my attempts to study. 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 59 

then sat down and closed my eyes, mortified enough. 
Mr. Grant, being about to administer the ordinance, 
made a long address on the subject of infant baptism, 
for the purpose, as I imagined, of helping out the meet- 
ing. After the baptism came the class-meeting, and 
I was asked to conduct it. I objected with emphasis, 
feeling that I had no courage to look any one in the 
face ; but Mr. Grant urged, and I again yielded to 
authority. To my great surprise, several persons 
spoke of what they had enjoyed while listening to the 
sermon. This looked to me much like an insult. I 
was sure that every body was disgusted with my 
performance. 

The meeting closed, and we went to the house of 
Joseph Keeler, where we remained all night. During 
the evening I had little to say, while Mr. Grant was in 
high spirits^ talking incessantly, and relating various 
interesting incidents of his itinerant life. The next 
morning I told him that I wanted to go home. " Go 
home,'' said he, "for what.'" "Because I can't 
preach,'' I replied, " O, Brother Peck," he exclaimed, 
" if you had heard me when I began you would not 
be discouraged." He then proceeded to give a sin- 
gular and amusing account of some of his own 
troubles and experiences during the early part of his 
ministry. " No, no," said he ; " you are not going 
home." We continued together about a week, preach- 
ing alternately. I gathered some confidence, and 
possibly did a little better. Mr. Grant continued to 
encourage me, and gave me much useful instruction 
in regard to the preparation and delivery of sermons. 
One day, as we rode and talked, I repeated the sub- 



6o Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

stance of a sermon which I had heard. He asked 
me if I could ordinarily remember a whole sermon 
in that way. I replied that if the sermon was method- 
ical and interesting, I had no difficulty in doing it 
at any time. " Well," said he, " Brother Peck, you 
will make a great man yet. That is something I 
could not do to save my life." Ah, thought I, it takes 
something more to make a great man than the ability 
to repeat the sermons of others. Still, I was con- 
scious that my quick and retentive memory of what 
I heard had done me good service. Having access 
to few books, I had formed the habit of treasuring up 
all that I heard, either from the pulpit or in conver- 
sation, that I felt was worth remembering. 

The circuit being now arranged for a six weeks' 
round, I took my regular share of the work with my 
two older colleagues. I generally felt at home among 
the people, and experienced some comfort when I 
tried to preach. Still it was, in more than one respect, 
a time of trial. The spring was backward, and the 
succeeding months were long remembered as the 
" cold summer." Corn failed to ripen even as far 
south as New Jersey. On the sixth day of June I 
rode from Julius Hitchcock's to Cazenovia in a severe 
snow-storm. Ice formed on my face and in my hair. 
The less hardy kinds of vegetation were cut down 
as fast as they sprang up, and even the leaves 
upon the trees were killed by the frost, so that 
the forest, in some places, looked as if the fire had 
run through it. There were forebodings of famine. 
The day after the snow-storm, I discovered, with the 
unaided eye, two spots on the sun. 



Conversion — Youth — Call to the Ministry. 6i 

My reflections were often of a very gloomy char- 
acter. I sometimes feared that to entertain me and 
feed my horse was burdensome to the people. There 
was great hospitality in general, and I received a 
cordial welcome ; but I remember an exception or 
two. I once stayed all night at one of our richest 
farmers, and in the morning a fearful storm was ra- 
ging, making it almost impossible, and certainly use- 
less, for me to ride on that day to my appointment. 
I sat down with my book, and was busily engaged, 
when my host and his wife began a conversation be- 
tween themselves on the subject of "keeping the 
preachers." In the course of the talk the husband 
said, with a good deal of earnestness, " Those that 
keep the preachers ought not to pay quarterage. It 
costs me twenty-five dollars to do it." " No," replied 
his amiable spouse, " we reckoned it up the other day, 
and made it out twenty-two dollars." " I don't care," 
said he, " it costs me twenty-five." This discus- 
sion was, no doubt, intended for me to hear, and I did 
hear, and felt the unspeakable meanness of it. I 
said nothing, but, on the spot, determined to remain 
till the storm was over, and after that to trouble them 
no more. I went on with my reading all day, re- 
sponding with all alacrity to the call to dinner and tea. 
I went out to the barn, found the oats, and fed my 
horse liberally. After breakfast the next morning I 
left this chilly habitation, and never entered it again. 
So many friendly doors were open to us in that neigh- 
borhood that there was no need of our going where 
we were not welcome. 

In June the quarterly meeting was held at Keel- 



62 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

er's. The presiding elder, George Harmon, was ab- 
sent, attending the General Conference, and Jonathan 
Hustis came as a substitute. Here I received license 
to preach, and was recommended for admission into 
the Conference on trial. In the latter part of this 
month a camp-meeting was held at Lansing, Mr. 
Harmon having charge of it. On the second day I 
was called on to preach, to my great consternation, 
and tried to comply. It was resolved also to hold a 
camp-meeting on our circuit. Ground was selected 
in Plymouth, and July 4 fixed upon as the time of 
beginning. Mr. Grant and I went into the forest, 
and worked faithfully for one weefe, preparing the 
ground. At last every thing was pronounced in 
order. We thought our defenses were particularly 
good, the abundance of undergrowth which was cut 
away supplying materials for a hpdge so thick and 
high that even " bulls of Bashan " would not be able 
either to scale or demolish it. 

The meeting was marked by some special circum- 
stances. Bishops George and M'Kendree were pres- 
ent a part of the time. Bishop M'Kendree preached 
his great sermon on Prov. xxiv, 30-34 ; " I went by 
the field of the slothful," etc. He spoke with great 
energy, and it was a splendid effort. , The multitudes 
hung upon his lips as if entranced. Bishop George 
had been elected and ordained about a month previ- 
ously. He was not well, and took no very active part 
in the meeting. He preached once, but it hardly 
amounted to a sermon. His 'whole discourse con- 
sisted of bursts of holy joy, and the preacher and the 
people shouted together. 



Conversion — Yoiitk — Call to the Ministry. 63 

The meeting was rather feeble at the beginning, 
but powerful toward the close. Timothy Dewey, 
commonly called Father Dewey, preached a terrific 
sermon on the words, " Prepare to meet thy God." 
There was a large number of the wicked in attend- 
ance, and they had been troublesome, and seemed 
reckless. The hearts of the brethren were faint. 
Father Dewey was just the man for the occasion. 
He stood before the crowd like a giant among pig- 
mies, and his voice was clear as a trumpet, and ter- 
rible as thunder. He came down upon the wicked 
in such sort that hundreds of them, who had been 
apparently as careless as so many cattle, listened 
with amazement and terror. God's people took 
heart, and began to struggle mightily for victory. 
There was an unbroken roar of fervent supplication 
all over the ground, while the awful voice of the 
preacher resounded above this tempest of prayer, and 
every word was heard as distinctly as if in the si- 
lence of midnight. " O sinner, sinner," thundered 
the preacher, " are you determined to take hell by 
scorm .' Can you dwell with devouring fire .' Can 
you stand eternal burnings .' Are your bones iron, 
and your flesh brass, that you plunge headlong into 
the lake of fire .' " 

Just as these words were uttered I saw a young 
man who had been standing by a tree, and holding 
to a branch of it, begin to reel. Presently his hold 
broke, and he fell to the ground, crying aloud for 
mercy. A great commotion arose all over the camp. 
Seekers were invited into the altar, and the meeting 
continued all night. Many were happily converted 



64 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

to God. Among these was William Lull, the young 
man who stood by the beech-tree, and held to the 
branch as long as he could. He afterward became a 
member of the New York Conference. Besides those 
already named, there were a number of able preachers 
at that camp-meeting — Abner Chase, William Cam- 
eron, Dan Barnes, George W. Densmore, Zenas Jones, 
and others. Powerful sermons characterized the oc- 
casion, and its influence upon the Church and the 
whole community was great and salutary. 

At the close of the meeting I went home and spent 
a few days with my friends. 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 65 . 



CHAPTER III. 

1816, BROOME CIRCUIT 1817, CORTLAND CIRCUIT. 

ON Saturday, July 19, 18 16, I rode to Sauquoit, 
where the Genesee Conference was in session. 
I was told on my arrival that my case had been acted 
upon, and I had been admitted on trial. I did not 
witness any of the deliberations of the Conference, 
the sessions being held with closed doors, as was the 
rule at that time. On Sabbath morning at eight 
o'clock Bishop George preached, and there was a 
great shout among preachers and people. At ten 
o'clock Bishop M'Kendree preached, standing by an 
open window on a platform erected for the purpose. 
The congregation numbered three or four thousand, 
the church being crowded chiefly with women and 
children, and by far the greater part of the people 
being out of doors. It was an eloquent and powerful 
sermon from the text, i Cor. i, 22-24, " Fo"^ the Jews 
require a sign," etc. These were the days of Bishop 
M'Kendree's glory. I think that he was the finest 
figure which I ever saw in the pulpit. He was about 
six feet in height, perfectly erect, with a full chest, 
and a countenance beaming with intelligence and 
benignity. His voice was shrill and musical, and 
his elocution simply natural, following the inspira- 
tions and impulses of the theme and the moment 
rather than artistic rules. His private manners were 



66 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

those of a well-bred gentleman who had seen much 
of the world. I thought it a great privilege to study 
the Bishop from afar, and expected no more ; but on 
my way from Conference I was introduced to him, 
and the mingled kindness and dignity with which he 
greeted me were to me very impressive as well as 
winning. 

When the appointments were read out I listened 
with the , most intense interest until I heard the 
announcement, " Broome Circuit, Elisha Bibbins, 
George Peck." I listened no further. I was pleased 
with the circuit, and especially with my colleague, 
and was in such a flurry to set off with the rest that 
I did not even wait to see Mr. Bibbins. The preach- 
ers, and even their wives who had come to Confer- 
ence, traveled on horseback. The session closed 
about ten o'clock in the morning, and the preachers, 
expecting the adjournment, had brought their horses 
to the church equipped for a start. A troop of us 
set off together over Paris Hill toward Sangerfield. 
At that point the western men bade us farewell, and 
we made our way to the valley of the Chenango. 
About half a dozen of us, among whom were Loring 
Grant and Marmaduke Pierce, spent the night at 
Asa Felt's, in Lebanon. The next day I went to 
my father's, where I remained a day or two, and then 
left for my new field. 

When I reached the bounds of the circuit I found 
a letter from Mr. Bibbins, containing a plan of the 
appointments, with instructions in regard to roads 
and stopping-places. I was 'to visit the lower half of 
the circuit before I met my colleague. My first 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 6"/ 

preaching-place was at Isaac Page's, five miles above 
Chenango Point. Notice had been given, and I had 
a large congregation in Mr. Page's barn. Here I 
found a good Society, which seemed to be prosper- 
ing. My next appointment was in Osborn Hollow, 
Sabbath afternoon ; the third in Stilson Hollow ; the 
fourth at Richard Lewis's, on the Susquehanna, near 
the present Kirkwood Station, on the Erie Railroad. 
Here I found a little log-cabin, not of the most in- 
viting aspect. The good woman informed me that 
they were out of meat, and that her husband had 
gone out to try to kill a deer. In due time the old 
gentleman returned, having succeeded in running a 
deer into the river, where he shot it. It was now 
the latter part of July, and we found the meat any 
thing but palatable. I preached to about half a dozen 
poor people, led the class, and then answered sundry 
questions in regard to the Conference. My host and 
his old lady were from Wales, and when evening 
came they lighted pine-knots, stuck them between 
the stones of the fire-place, and began to sing Welsh 
hymns. 

In the morning I rode to Jesse Hale's, some six 
miles above the Great Bend. Father Hale was a 
mighty hunter. In fact, he came from Vermont, and 
fixed his home in this new region for the purpose of 
pursuing game in the Harmony Woods — the great 
forest which then stretched from the Susquehanna to 
the Delaware. He slaughtered about a hundred deer 
annually, most of which he sent to the Philadelphia 
market. He often killed bears and elks, as well as a 
great variety of smaller game, of the flesh of which I 



68 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

often partook at his table. He was a shrewd, witty 
man. He was the father-in-law of Joseph Smith, the 
Mormon prophet. In this neighborhood Smith, at 
least in one version of his story, professed to find the 
golden plates from which he said that he translated 
the Book of Mormon. He made love to Emma Hale, 
and finally married her, in opposition to the wishes 
of her friends. Hale himself detested Smith, con- 
sidering him an impostor and a knave. 

Mr. H^le gave me a cordial reception, and in the 
afternoon I preached in a little log school-house to a 
small but earnest congregation. When I was in the 
midst of my subject, and, perhaps, waxing warm there- 
in, a young woman made a leap in the air and uttered 
an unearthly scream, which startled me, and came 
near scattering my thoughts, and bringing my ser- 
mon to a premature end. I found afterward that she 
was given to this kind of procedure. She was teach- 
ing school in this neighborhood, and the next day, 
when my path lay over the mountain to Windsor, 
where her residence was she must needs borrow a 
saddle-horse and insist on accompanying me as guide. 
Her father, now deceased, had been a deacon in the 
Presbyterian Church, and no one was home when we 
reached her house but her mother, a genuine old 
Jezebel, who came hobbling out on her crutch, and 
gave me a blast of wild denunciation, berating the 
Methodists in " good set terms," and heaping upon 
them all manner of angry abuse. The situation was 
decidedly novel. 

I rode on to Higby Hollow, where I stayed all 
night at Father Higby's ; and the next mornirig. 



Broome Circuit^Cortland Circuit. 6g 

which was the Sabbath, preached in a small school- 
house. In the afternoon I preached at Randolph, 
where was one of the strongest Societies on the cir- 
cuit. My course that week lay in an irregular line 
through portions of Broome and Chenango Counties. 
The appointments for preaching were at Merwin's, 
Wedge's, Alhse's, Higby's, Elliott's, and Kimball's, 
and then on Friday evening my colleague and I met 
at Page's, on the Chenango, five miles above Bing- 
hamton, which was then called Chenango Point. I 
gave Brother Bibbins an account of my adventures, 
including ray crossing the mountain with rny volun- 
teer escort, and my reception at her mother's. He 
laughed heartily at this part of my recital, and re- 
marked, " I will cure that." What he said to the lady 
I do not know ; but on my next round I crossed the 
mountain alone. 

On Saturday I set off on the northern range of 
appointments, and in the afternoon reached Smith- 
viile, where I found a kind reception at the house of 
Dr. Grant, the father of my friend, Loring Grant. In 
Dr. Grant and his wife I found two very pious, intel- 
ligent, sensible people, thoroughly attached to our 
Church, and firm friends and wise counselors of the 
Methodist preachers. Sunday morning I preached 
at Smithville, in a private house, and in the afternoon 
rode to Lee's school-house, where I preached again. 

Amanda Hotchkiss was a member of the Society 
at Lee's. She was a very tall young woman, deeply 
pious, and universally respected, and yet somewhat 
peculiar. She had a way of expressing joyous re- 
ligious emotion by "jumping." Her motions were 



70 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

modest, and even graceful. She moved gently, with 
her eyes closed, occasionally saying, in soft, musical 
tones, " Glory to God." The preachers did not wish 
to grieve her by questioning the propriety of her 
exercises, and the most careless of the wicked would 
not even smile at them. She long believed that she 
could not avoid these demonstrations, and that they 
were the result of Divine power. But the conviction 
at last forced itself upon her mind that these move- 
ments were no necessary part of religion, that in her 
case they were partly the result of mere habit, and 
that they were undesirable. She wholly ceased from 
physical demonstrations, and yet averred that she 
enjoyed closer communion with God, and more solid 
religious happiness, than when she was more demon- 
strative. 

On Monday afternoon I preached in the school- 
•house at Smithville Flats. That evening I lodged 
at the house of a man whose wife was a member of 
our Church, and who kept a little store. During the 
evening there was drinking and carousing in the 
store, and some one, evidently intoxicated, sung a 
vulgar song. I thoughtlessly inquired who it was. 
" It is my husband," said the lady, with painful em- 
barrassment of manner. I was sorry that I had asked 
the question. The noise continued, the report of a 
gun adding to the uproar. In the morning, on tak- 
ing down my saddle, which I had hung up under the 
piazza, I found that a musket ball had been shot 
through it, shattering the frame. My song-singing 
host did not make his appearance that morning. I 
complained of the outrage, and Dr. Grant and my 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 71 

colleague were so indignant that they concluded that 
we could spend our time to better purpose elsewhere. 
There had been good congregations but no Society, 
and we preached there no more. 

The next preaching-place was at Squire Hamil- 
ton's, where I preached to a small congregation, 
and was kindly entertained by an estimable family. 
Thence I went to M'Donough, where T preached in 
the comfortable log-house of Mr. Oisterbanks, and 
received a cordial welcome. Next I preached in the 
house of Deacon Punderson, who had been an officer 
in the war of the Revolution. He was a pious, 
well-informed man, a member of the Baptist Church. 
He had read much, and had a strong, sound mind, 
and was one of the few whom I met from whose 
' conversation I always expected to learn something ; 
and yet he was as humble as a little child. His talk 
was to me an intellectual feast. His children were 
Methodists, and he was very friendly toward us. 

From this place I went to Father Widger's, whom 
I found a little rough on the surface, but a man of 
generous impulses, with a fine, pleasant, pious family. 
I then passed through the village of Oxford, and 
preached at David Lyons's. The day following I 
preached in the school-house near Captain Tillot- 
son's, with whom I lodged. Neither he nor his wife 
professed religion, but they were very friendly and 
hospitable, and gave us a good home when we 
preached in their neighborhood. 

The next Sabbath I preached in the morning in 
the village of Green, in a school-house. There were 
no members of our Church there at that time. In 



72 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D.' 

the afternoon I rode six or eight miles, and preached 
in the house of Benjamin Jackson, where I found a 
good Society. Monday evening I preached at Lisle, 
in the house of Father Whitney ; Tuesday, at Father 
Norton's ; Wednesday, at Henry Palmer's, in what is 
now called Kettleville ; Thursday, at Orrin Seward's, 
on Potato Creek ; and Friday brought me to I. Page's, 
where I again met my colleague. 

Thus I made my first round of the circuit, having 
traveled over two hundred miles, and preached twen- 
ty-eight times in four weeks. There was not a church 
on the circuit. We preached in school-houses, barns, 
and private houses. We had no appointment in any 
village except Green, which was then small, and in 
which we had no Society, and not even a place to 
lodge. In those regions Methodism first took pos- 
session of the sparsely-peopled country neighbor- 
hoods.- There were on Broome Circuit three hundred 
and sixty-six members. The congregations were 
good, often crowding the places of assemblage. The 
spirit of the people was excellent, and their cordiality 
and warm hospitality greatly encouraged me. I was 
called "the boy," and the term was not misapplied. 
I was tall, but exceedingly spare ; my face was pale, 
and my voice untrained. I was conscious that I was 
very imperfectly qualified for the great work of the 
ministry, and I often went from the place of worship 
in deep despondency, weighed down with a sense 
of utter failure. Sometimes I perceived indications 
of levity among the young people present in the 
congregation, and construed it as evidence of con- 
tempt for roe and my performances. And then. 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 73 

again, an earnest meeting, and indications of a 
good effect among the people, would cheer me up, 
and I would gather courage. My youth and evident 
inexperience attracted attention, and drew congrega- 
tions perhaps larger than they would otherwise have 
been, and thus, take it all in all, I had sufficient ex- 
perience of the rough ways of the itinerancy to keep 
me from undue exaltation, and enough of popularity 
to keep me from total loss of hope and courage. 

Meanwhile I was very anxious to improve. In 
those, days the publications of the Methodist Book 
Concern were sold chiefly through the agency of the 
ministers. Packages of books were sent from time 
to time to the presiding elders, who distributed them 
among the preachers to be sold. The preachers 
carried copies of the various works as they went 
around their circuits, and every-where offered them 
to the people. When they had canvassed the ground 
they returned to the elder what remained unsold, 
and paid for the rest, usually settling up the business 
at the last quarterly meeting before the Annual 
Conference. 

The books for our district were stored at Norwich. 
I took an early opportunity to visit the place, and fill 
my saddle-bags with books for sale and for use. 

The General Conference of i8i6 had planned a 
course of reading and study for preachers on trial in 
the Conference, and the presiding elder had furnished 
me with a list of the books named. The young men 
were to be examined in their studies, not annually, 
but when they came up for admission into the Con- 
ference. I selected Wesley's Sermons and Fletch- 



74 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

er's Checks as the principal work of the year, and 
tasked myself with a certain number of pages daily. 
If I gained any time I employed it to the best ad- 
vantage in my power in other studies. My method 
was to study the allotted portion of Wesley in the 
morning, while yet at the house where I had spent 
the previous night ; then, mounting my horse, I rode 
on to my next appointment, reflecting as I went on 
what I had read, and studying my sermon. On 
reaching my next stopping-place I passed a few 
minutes in conversation, and then got out my copy 
of Fletcher and studied as long as other duties per- 
mitted. Thus I read a portion daily in both Wesley 
and Fletcher till I had gone through them with close 
attention. They were more precious to me than 
gold. I had read some of Wesley's Sermons while 
at home ; but the Checks were all new to me, and I 
was charmed with the flowing style, the keen wit, 
the novel illustration, and the powerful logic of the 
Vicar of Madeley. 

I found immediate use for the edge tools with 
which I was thus made acquainted. It was a time 
of controversy and debate. Every preacher was ex- 
pected to be perpetually in line of battle, ready for 
either attack or defense ; and when sundry zealous 
opposers of the Methodists thought to win an easy 
victory over " the boy," they found that they could 
not stand before John Fletcher. 

This year I also studied Watts' Logic and Wes- 
ley's Notes on the New Testament. This latter 
work was all that I then possessed in the line of 
biblical criticism, and although I was not wholly 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 75 

satisfied with some of the views of Wesley, it afforded 
me great assistance. The dictum of Wesley was in 
general the end of controversy with me, but his notes 
were often too brief to be clear, and left the difficulty 
still unexplained. I encountered many hinderances 
in the prosecution of my studies. I was obliged to 
sit down with my book in the same room with the 
family where I chanced to be, the children noisy, the 
adults full of talk, and all manner of domestic opera- 
tions in progress. Sometimes I would be assailed 
with questions, designed to draw me into the con- 
versational current, but I contrived to bring out my 
answers so slowly, and sometimes so much at ran- 
dom; as to make the impression that my attention 
was not to be diverted. The good people soon 
learned my ways, and when I opened my book they 
usually left me to myself ; but there were still diffi- 
culties in the way. Sometimes the light was bad, 
coming through a window glazed with oiled paper, 
or through the chinks between the logs, or the open 
gable of the cabin. In the winter I was often obliged 
to sit first with one side to the fire and then the 
other, in order to keep tolerably warm all around. 
The chairs, too, with their high, straight backs, and 
sagged splint bottoms, were instruments of torture. 
When I meet one of the weeping prophets, whose 
mission seems to be to bewail the " good old times " 
of early Methodism, I sometimes fancy that it would 
do him good to sit for a few hours in one of those 
ancient chairs, and meditate on the golden age whose 
departed glories he mourns. In the summer things 
were more favorable, as I could retreat to the groves 



"j^ Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

with my books and papers, and thus escape frc i 
company, confusion, and interruption. What de- 
lightful times I had in the forest, with a log for a 
seat, and a rock for a writing-table. 

In September I attended a camp-meeting with Mr. 
Bibbins at Hopbottorn. The congregations were 
small, the nights were cold, and the general success 
of the meeting not great. Still I was interested in 
various matters connected with it. I heard Marma- 
duke Pierce, the presiding elder of the Susquehanna 
District, preach a great sermon on tKe evidences of 
Christianity. The people were extravagant in phys- 
ical demonstrations. " Jumping " was a general 
practice. Here I first saw Darius Williams, a local 
preacher from Wyoming Circuit, well known through 
the southern part of the Conference as a marvel of 
song in the prayer-meetings, and a man of great ani- 
mation- and power. James Gilmore, a member of the 
Conference, attracted no little attention. He was a 
man of devoted piety and great mental force, but, 
withal, eccentric in his expressions and actions. He 
had once encountered a great deal of persecution at 
the hands of a band of skeptics on his circuit, who 
seemed to have deliberately set themselves to the 
work of annoying and resisting him in his Gospel 
work. Mr. Gilmore suffered patiently for a time, 
but at last prayed in the public congregation that if 
these enemies of the truth would not cease that the 
Lord would remove them out of the way. Soon after 
a malignant fever swept away a number of the bold- 
est of them, and spread consternation among the rest 
far and wide. He was told at this camp-meeting 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. TJ 

that a certain stranger, who had been listening to his 
talk, had said that he would like to hear him preach. 

" He would ? " was the reply. " Well, bring him 
here, and I will preach to him in five minutes ; and 
when he has heard me, he will think that a horse has 
kicked him." 

We had a tolerably prosperous year, but no great 
revivals. One event gave us great pain, and inflicted 
a permanent injury upon the cause of religion. Two 
Unitarian preachers came within the bounds of our 
circuit, preaching the speedy coming of Christ, the 
establishment of his kingdom, and the annihilation 
of the wicked. They denounced all creeds, all "book- 
learning," all Church organizations. Their names 
were John Taylor and David Foot, and they de- 
clared that they had received a Divine commission 
to pull down the Churches. They took their texts 
chiefly from the Book of Revelation, and attempted 
to show that the Churches were Babylon and the 
scarlet woman. The burden of their sermons was, 
" Come out of her, my people, that ye be not par- 
takers of her . . . plagues." The Churches, they said, 
were all to be destroyed in four years. 

Their religious exercises were wild and fanatical, 
and their assemblies scenes of disorder. They 
danced and howled, and indulged in antics which 
were not only foolish, but profane. One evening, 
while I was preaching in a little log-cabin occupied 
by a man whose name was Kimball, in came this 
Taylor, who, as I afterward learned, had already 
caught Kimball and his wife in his evil net. When 
I concluded my service, Taylor started up and began 



78 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

to shout and roar in an incoherent manner. He 
jumped up and down, threw his red handkerchief up 
against the ceiling, and caught it as it came down. 
A few men, and more women, in the congregation 
caught the inspiration, and began to follow his exam- 
ple. Kimball arose, and began a fanatical harangue, 
declaring that he had at last got into liberty, and was 
ready to leave the Churches, and" abandon all "book 
learning " whatever. " Yes, brethering," he screamed, 
" I am munging into the liberty, and if any of you 
don't like it you may intire into another room." I 
accepted his proposition by " intiring " out of doors, 
and, mounting my horse, which had been standing 
under a shed, rode four or five miles to Charles 
Stone's, crossing the Chenango on the ice. Here I 
found the presiding elder, Mr. Harmon, and my col- 
league, to whom I related the evening's adventures. 

These impostors gathered about them a little band 
of followers, some from our Society, others from other 
denominations. They called each other by their 
Christian names, and so got the cognomen of John- 
ites, from the name of their leader, John Taylor. 
This outbreak of fanaticism and folly had more 
power for mischief than one would suppose possible. 
The Society at Page's was so generally affected by it 
that it disbanded, the few who remained faithful join- 
ing elsewhere. Not a few simple-hearted, good peo- 
ple were led away, and, for a time, Taylor and Foot 
flourished. They professed boundless Christian love 
for their disciples, and sometimes kissed them all round 
at the close of the meeting. After a while suspicions 
arose, and people began to whisper together ; then 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 79 

came discovery, then popular indignation, and hints 
of tar and feathers ; John and David fled to parts 
unknown, and the Johnite heresy came to an end, 
leaving behind it an unsavory odor, which lasted 
many years. 

When the year closed I was deeply affected at the 
thought of leaving the people. I had found among 
them fathers and mothers who had treated me with 
parental affection ; brothers and sisters who had sym- 
pathized with me in my trials, and had in various ways 
ministered to my comfort. I had taken sweet coun- 
sel with them in the solemn assembly, and in their 
dwellings, at the fireside, and around the family altar. 
Now I was to leave them. I was not accustomed to 
this breaking up of cherished associations. It was 
leaving home a second time. I bade adieu to the 
people, often with tears, and as often left them in 
tears. It was still harder to part with my colleague. 
We had labored together with the utmost harmony, 
and a friendship had been formed which, I trust, shall 
never end. 

The pecuniary receipts of the year did not make 
me rich. I received of the stewards of the circuit 
about fifty dollars. Still, my wants were supplied. 
The goodly, home-spun suit which my mother spun 
and wove, and my sister had made, lasted through 
the year. It was, however, waxing old, and the di- 
minutive " salary " named came opportunely, to ena- 
ble me to prepare for my next field of labor. 

There being nothing to call me to Conference, 
which held its session in Canada, I took the oppor- 
tunity to visit my friends. During this visit a camp- 



8o Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

meeting was held at Columbus, some ten miles from 
my father's. We took our tent, and spent there a 
very pleasant and profitable season. While trying 
to preach at this meeting I was greatly moved to see 
my father break down and weep like a child. The 
fact is, his faith in my call to the work had not been 
very strong, and he had often expressed his doubts. 
He had not heard me attempt a sermon, except at 
the beginning of my public labors, and in the mean- 
time I had acquired some degree of confidence, and 
succeeded so much better than he anticipated, that 
he now went, perhaps, to the other extreme, saying, 
" I have been wicked in my opposition to that boy's 
preaching. I give it up. God has called him to the 
work." 

I also visited Middlefield, the place of my birth, 
and preached in the old Presbyterian church. I was 
glad to meet again the people with whom I had been 
associated in my early religious life. My old friends 
and comrades greeted me very kindly, but I found it 
something of a cross to preach before them. 

This year, 1817, my appointment was on Cort- 
land Circuit, again with Elisha Bibbins. I could not 
have been better pleased. The circuit was the one 
organized by Loring Grant, and on which I spent 
the first few months of my ministry. I had been at 
all the appointments, knew the roads, the " stopping- 
places," and the people. My brother Luther had 
married and settled within the bounds of the charge, 
and I would be within a day's ride of my father's 
house, and I set out with good courage for my new 
field. 



Broome Ciraiit — Cortland Circuit. 8i 

In passing around the circuit I found things con- 
siderably improved. There had been a revival of 
religion in Cazenovia and the vicinity, and a class, 
composed chiefly of young people, had been formed 
in the village. William Cameron had labored in 
Cortland the previous year, and had been very use- 
ful. The people every-where gave me a hearty 
welcome, and we were greatly cheered with the 
prospects of good which were exhibited in all di- 
rections. Mr. Bibbins was very acceptable. He 
was a man of great power in prayer and exhorta- 
tion. His singing often melted hard hearts, and 
prepared the way for his mighty appeals, under 
which whole congregations sometimes broke out in 
sobs and tears. Our congregations increased. I 
felt the stimulus of the growing interest, studied my 
sermons still more carefully, and delivered them with 
increased earnestness. Awakenings and conversions 
took place on different parts of the circuit, and our 
hopes of a sweeping revival were mounting to the 
highest pitch. 

Several circumstances worthy of note attended our 
first quarterly meeting. It was appointed at Caze- 
novia, where we had no church of our own. We ex- 
pected to occupy the court-house, which was vacant, 
the county seat having been removed to Morrisville. 
The Methodists and the Baptists had been occupying 
the court-room on alternate Sundays, and, unfortu- 
nately, the quarterly meeting came on the wrong day. 
Neither party had any lease of the premises, or legal 
title to them. We applied to the Baptist minister. 
Elder John Peck, proposing a change of the times of 
6 



82 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

occupancy, but he refused in a somewhat ungracious 
manner. There stood on the hill-side, near the out- 
let of the lake, between the mills and the bridge, an 
old two-story building once a distillery, but then 
unoccupied, and we secured it for the emergency. 
Mr. Bibbins, Benajah Williams, Father Rowland, and 
myself, went at the work, and with our own hands 
fitted up the second story for our meeting. We re- 
paired the floor, constructed benches of slabs, and 
made a pulpit of a carpenter's work-bench, and had 
space for five hundred people. 

We had a glorious meeting. The love-feast was a 
time of power. When the public services began the 
place was filled to overflowing. The presiding elder, 
George Harmon, preached a powerful sermon against 
Calvinism, and a strong and permanent effect was 
produced on the public mind. My old namesake 
lost, instead of gaining, by his course. 

In the month of September Mr. Bibbins and I 
attended a camp-meeting on Broome Circuit, on the 
ground of Charles Stone. Timothy Dewey was there, 
and preached four sermons, all really great, scriptur- 
al, weighty, full of thought, and abounding in power- 
ful appeals, which sometimes were overwhelming. 
On Sunday George W. Densmore preaclied an earn- 
est sermon, and John Griffing followed it with an 
exhortation which cut its way like a two-edged 
sword. Many penitents cried for mercy. One man 
fell to the ground, and writhed as if in the agonies 
of death. He found peace, and when I saw him 
last, thirty years afterward, was still a faithful member 
of the Church. 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. %i 

Another incident occurred which may be worth 
relating, as an illustration of the times. A young 
man, a sort of itinerant local preacher, undertook to 
preach a great, learned sermon, and, in the estimation 
of every body except himself, made the flattest kind 
of a failure. As he proceeded the preachers grew 
uneasy, and groaned, and began quietly to leave the 
stand one by one, and still the preacher went on, 
without any sign of making an end. At the end of 
an hour and a half Mr. Densmore, unable any longer 
to endure his sufferings, crept up behind the speaker 
and whispered emphatically, " Wind off ! wind off ! " 
This brought the freshet of eloquence and wisdom 
to an end, and the youth, going up to a group of 
preachers, innocently asked, " What ails Brother 
Densmore .■' " " Your sermon was the cause of his 
movements. I am astonished at you. It was very 
much out of place," said the elder. Still the young 
man seemed unable to understand the matter, and 
Father Dewey turned his keen, black eyes upon him, 
and said, in his impressive manner, "You made 
awful work of it.'' The ambitious orator soon left 
the ground, and I have never heard of him since. 

While every thing on our circuit was full of prom- 
ise, and I was anticipating a great harvest of souls, 
I was suddenly stricken down by severe illness. 

On a cold, damp evening, I preached in a crowded 
and uncomfortably hot school-house, and then walked 
half a mile in a profuse perspiration to my lodgings. 
In the morning I found that I had taken a severe 
cold, but, hoping to wear it off, went on my round, 
preaching daily, growing worse all the time, my cough 



84 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

bein^ almost insupportable, and my head' so dizzy 
that I could scarcely stand. Reaching the house of 
Father Isaiah Williams, two miles south of Cazeno- 
via, I could go no farther. Then followed a profuse 
hemorrhage from the lungs. I had no physician, 
and I saw, by the faces and language of my kind 
friends, that they were alarmed and feared a fatal 
result. The bleeding somewhat relieved the strict- 
ure on my lungs, and I was removed to the house 
of John Rowland, in Cazenovia, where I had all 
needed care and medical aid. For several nights I 
sat up in a chair, being unable to lie down. Once I 
attempted to pray in the family, and fainted, alarm- 
ing the whole household. 

In this feeble condition I rode in a sleigh to my 
father's. Once more at home, and in the care of 
my dear mother, I was content, and began slowly to 
mend, although so slowly that for some time it was by 
no means clear whether the attack would terminate 
in restoration or death. I passed through severe men- 
tal conflicts. I could not bear the thought of leaving 
my work. I asked my heart if I was prepared to die ; 
and I felt that, while I had hope in God, I was not in 
the state of mind I desired to be when I should-go 
into his presence. I wanted a clearer vision. It was 
a time of searching of heart and deep humiliation. I 
writhed under the rod, but it subdued me ; it checked 
my ambition and my too high hopes. I saw my 
weakness as I had never seen it before, and felt the 
vanity of all human expectations. 

I remained at home three or four weeks. I had 
gone thither in an exceedingly enfeebled condition, 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit 85 

and, for aught I knew, to die ; for days I was not 
able to obtain one moment of refreshing sleep, and 
yet, at the present time, I have none but pleasant 
memories of that visit. The simple remedies which 
I took, prepared by my mother from the roots and 
herbs found in field or forest; the kind attentions 
which I received ; and, above all, the consciousness 
of home, were a balm to soul and body. While still 
very weak I returned to my circuit, resolved to do 
what service I was able. I made my home at Caze- 
novia, and soon found something that I could do. 

The quarterly meeting in the distillery had made 
a strong impression in favor of Methodism, and the 
little Society began to gather courage. We learned 
that the old court-house was to be sold, and a few 
of our friends resolved, if possible, to purchase it. 
We learned, somehow, that the Baptists expected, as 
a matter of course, to buy it for their own use ; and 
that, not expecting any serious competition, they had 
appointed a committee to attend the sale and make 
the purchase, provided the price did not exceed 
eighteen hundred dollars. We resolved to secure it, 
even if we were compelled to pay a little more than 
this sum. 

The day of sale came ; bids of various amounts 
were offered, and at last the Baptist committee 
reached their limit, and there rested, having no idea 
that any one would go beyond them. To their ex- 
treme mortification, our committee went a little 
beyond, and the property was struck off to us. Then 
they began to abuse, and even insult, the men who 
had outbid them, saying that they would never be 



86 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

able to pay for it. To guard against every contin- 
gency, we had come prepared with a bond, signed 
by six or seven reliable gentlemen, guaranteeing due 
payment. To get this bond drawn up and signed 
had been the first thing that I attempted to do -after 
my return from my father's. This bond was now 
produced and handed to the commissioners, who 
read it, and then turning to our friends, said, " The 
property is yours." Thus, for the sum of eighteen 
hundred and ten dollars we became possessed of a 
place of worship of our own in the village of Caze- 
novia. The building is still in existence, and now 
constitutes a part of the Oneida Conference Seminary. 
The gentlemen who signed the bond were John 
Rowland, Benajah Williams, Isaac Parsons, Joseph 
Keeler, Martin Keeler, and, I think, another, whose 
name I cannot recall. 

I was too feeble to resume my regular work, and 
yet desired to do something. I felt able to preach 
once a Sabbath, and by the direction of the presiding 
elder I established regular services in Cazenovia, and 
maintained them nearly until the session, of the Con- 
ference. My colleague insisted that I should rest 
while he multiplied his labors to supply my lack of 
service. My strength gradually returned, and toward 
the close of the year I made a round of the circuit 
and preached at every appointment. Meanwhile I 
had prosecuted my studies with little interruption. 
I had read Wesley on Original Sin, and Fletcher's 
Appeal. I had studied Watts' Logic, Blair's Rhet- 
oric, and Morse's Geography. For the sake of the 
rich fragments of biblical criticism with which the 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 87 

work abounds, I had gone entirely through the two 
heavy volumes of Wood's Dictionary of the Bible. I 
had also thoroughly studied the Baptist and Calvin- 
ist controversies, and often had use for what I knew 
in regard to them. One evening, for instance, when 
my colleague and I were tarrying for a night in the 
village of De Ruyter, a young man, not a member of 
any Church, contrived to bring to the house where 
we were a Baptist minister by the name of Benedict, 
noted for his controversial pugnacity. A debate fol- 
lowed, as a matter of course. Mr. Bibbins contented 
himself in silently watching the contest. My oppo- 
nent plunged at once into the metaphysics of the 
subject, seeming to fancy that it would be an un- 
known land to me. But I pressed him with the log- 
ical consequences of the "horrible decree," its fatal- 
ism, its destruction of moral responsibility, till he 
was thoroughly entangled in his own web. Confused 
by arguments and rejoinders which were familiar to 
those who had seen our side of the controversy, but 
which seemed new to him, he finally excused himself, 
and took his departure. 

In July we held a camp-meeting in Truxton. My 
colleague and I selected the ground and superin- 
tended its preparation. Father Dewey, James Kel- 
sey, and other preachers came to our help, and, best 
of all, God was with us, and we had a goodly number 
of souls converted. There were some interesting 
cases. Several children of the principal members at 
Keeney's Settlement were among the converts. An 
interesting daughter of Father Andrews was in the 
prayer circle. The weather was so hot and the 



88 Life and Times of G. Feck, D.D. 

crowd so dense that an elder sister really feared that 
the penitent young lady would be suffocated. Mak- 
ing her way to her through the throng, she lifted up 
her sister's head, and said, "Esther, you will die here. 
Do you not want some water ? " The weeping girl 
looked up at her, and replied, " I want nothing but 
Jesus." The other retreated in all possible haste, 
and Esther was soon able to praise the Lord for his 
pardoning mercy. 

James Kelsey preached a powerful sermon. Fa- 
ther Dewey, as he always did, thundered and light- 
ened, and made every thing tremble. He preached 
on the text, " I have somewhat against thee, because 
thou hast left thy first love." Certain expressions in 
his opening prayer gave offense in some quarters. 
" O Lord," said he, " have mercy upon backslidden 
Methodists, hypocritical Baptists, and cold-hearted 
Presbyterians." The sermon was in a similar spirit, 
and cut every way. 

The camp-meeting closed, but the work went on, 
and I remained at Keeney's Settlement about two 
weeks, preaching, attending prayer-meetings, and 
visiting from house to house. We had some annoy- 
ance from a certain Baptist preacher, who, without 
waiting for an invitation, visited families where there 
were converts, misrepresenting the Methodists, talk- 
ing up immersion, and showing more zeal for water 
than either piety or honor. His raids resulted in 
turning aside a few. 

Some of the conversions were remarkable. Fa- 
ther Andrews' eldest son, who was married, lived in 
the same house with his father. He and his wife 



Broome Circuit — Cortland Circuit. 89 

were awakened at the camp-meeting, and sought 
peace, apparently in vain. He became discouraged 
and almost despairing. I went to the house late one 
afternoon, and met James Andrews, who was going 
up the high hill in the rear of the house to look after 
his horses. I asked him how he fared religiously. 
He answered that he was discouraged ; that he tried 
his best to give up all, and yet he felt no rehef. I 
urged him to persevere, assuring him that the cloud 
would soon burst if he continued to seek earnestly. 
He went on up the hill, and I entered the house. 
As I sat musing in the twilight I heard an unusual 
noise behind the house, and going to see what caused 
the alarm, I heard Mother Andrews exclaim, " O 
dear me, the horse has kicked James !" She rushed- 
up the hill in the direction of the noise, her husband 
close behind her, and I following as fast as I could. 
When I arrived on the scene of action I found all 
three with their arms abound each other, reeling this 
way and that, James shouting, " Glory to God," and 
all three weeping, praising the Lord, and acting as 
if they were wild with joy. 

" O, Mr. Peck," said James, when the first burst 
of emotion had subsided a little, " I did as you told 
me, and God has blessed me. I came into this field, 
and although there are only three acres in it, and the 
horses are here, I could not find them. I thought I 
would go to a particular spot and pray, but when I 
came to it something seemed to say, This is not the 
right place, go to another ; and when I reached the 
other, that was not the right one. Finally I said I 
will go no farther, but just fall down here and cry for 



90 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

mercy, and imtflediately my soul was filled with peace 
and joy, and I began to praise the Lord aloud." 

Thus I spent a few very happy days, not entirely 
free from pain and disappointment, while I saw a por- 
tion of the fruit of our labors lured from us and borne 
off in other directions. In those days the unscrupu- 
lous proselyting which we sometimes saw roused my 
indignation, and called forth scathing doctrinal ser- 
mons. Later in life I feel less concern. My .esti- 
mate of the procedure, indeed, remains the same ; 
but I have learned that those who are likely to do 
well in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and be of 
real religious value to us, will not be easily persuaded 
away. 



Wyoming' Circiiit — Bridgewater Circuit. gi 



CHAPTER IV. 

RECEPTION INTO THE CONFERENCE : 1818, WYOMING 
CIRCUIT 1819, BRIDGEWATER CIRCUIT AND WY- 
OMING. 

THE Genesee Conference met at Lansing (then 
called Teetertown and Genoa) July i6, 1818, 
Bishop Roberts presiding. 

About the second day of the session the candidates 
for admission to membership in the Conference were 
notified to present themselves before the Bishop at 
his lodgings for examination. We were eleven in 
number, and were all ushered into the room together, 
where we found the Bishop and the six presiding 
elders. We were examined singly, each rising when 
his name was called, and standing in the middle of 
the floor till the questioners were done with him. 
This was the first examination of candidates in the 
history of the Conference, and I had looked forward 
to it with fear and trembling. I anticipated a thor- 
ough, searching process, and was afraid that I should 
utterly fail. But I was immeasurably mistaken in 
the whole affair. The good Bishop asked a few ques- 
tions of the most general character, and three of the 
elders. Case, Giles, and Hustis, volunteered a few 
more of the same kind. John Dempster was asked 
to parse an easy sentence, which he did imperfectly 
without being corrected. I was not even asked 



92 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

whether I had studied grammar. The examination 
of the whole eleven occupied only the brief summer 
evening. 

I came away almost vexed. I had studied hard 
for two years, and the books over which I had 
spent many a day of intense application were hardly 
named. Perhaps pride was at the bottom of these 
feelings ; but at the time I thought it only a natural 
desire to stand in a true light before the Conference. 
Moreover, I was suspicious that objections might be 
made to my reception on account of the state of my 
health. I had been laid aside from my regular work 
for three months during the previous year, and was 
still pale and thin, consequently a little reinforce- 
ment of my claims on the score of my attention to 
books might be of service. 

The next day I was leaning on the fence in a 
brown study when out came Mr. Bibbins. " Come 
in, George," said he, "you are admitted." I went 
'into the church, and for the first time beheld an 
Annual Conference in session. This custom of hold- 
ing the sessions with doors closed to all but members 
of Conference prevailed until 1824, and was then laid 
aside. When I entered the Conference room the 
other candidates were under consideration. There 
was a warm debate over the case of John Dempster. 
His piety, zeal, and ability were urged, and admitted, 
but he was declared to be in infirm health. He was 
finally continued on trial. When I saw the result in 
his case, I wondered why I had not been rejected for 
the same reason. I found afterward that my presid- 
ing elder, perhaps fully persuaded that my health 



Wyoming Circuit — Bridgewater Circuit. 93 

would soon be entirely restored, had said nothing 
about it, and no question had been raised on the 
subject. 

At this period the leading debaters of the Genesee 
Conference were John Kimberlin, Charles Giles, 
Henry Ryan, William Case, Loring Grant, Andrew 
Prindle, and William Barlow. Several of these were 
really able in argument. Marmaduke Pierce, the 
strongest man in the body, seldom said a word ex- 
cept when his position as presiding elder compelled 
him. 

On Sunday, the church being far too small to con- 
tain the crowds which gathered from far and near, 
the services were held in a neighboring grove. 
Bishop Roberts preached a plain, practical sermon, 
after which I, with others, was ordained a deacon. 
The service was performed in an impressive manner, 
and the whole ceremony, particularly the ordination 
vows, sank deeply into my heart. In the afternoon 
I heard a sermon from Joshua Soule, followed imme- 
diately by another, I think, from William Barlow. 
Mr. Soule was then the principal Book Agent at 
New York. I had never before heard a preacher of 
his type. He had an imposing personal presence, 
and I thought him a man of great talents, but I could 
not say that I admired him. 

At the close of the Conference my name was read 
out for Wyoming Circuit, on the Susquehanna Dis- 
trict. I was surprised at my appointment, as the cir- 
cuit was one of the oldest, and was considered one of 
the most desirable charges in the Conference. Meet- 
ing the presiding elder, Mr. Pierce, at the door, I ex- 



94 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

pressed to him my fears that I should not meet the 
expectations of the people upon so important a 
charge ; but he encouraged me, saying that the peo- 
ple were very kind, and that there was a good revival 
of religion on the circuit. 

I set off for my new field of labor in company with 
Elijah King, who was appointed to Wyalusing. He 
was an admirer of good horses, and generally owned 
one of the best. At the Conference Joshua Soule 
took a fancy to Mr. King's powerful steed, and per- 
suaded him to sell it. Mr. King proposed, as our 
way for nearly a hundred miles was in the same di- 
rection, that we should harness my horse to his car- 
riage, and ride together as far as our roads were 
the same. Thus we traveled for three days. I then 
mounted my horse, and rode on two days more, the 
road lying along the Susquehanna, sometimes close 
on the bank of the river, sometimes diverging and 
passing over the mountains. When I reached the 
Valley of Wyoming I had just fifty cents in money 
left in my pocket. 

There was, so far as I knew, but one man on the 
circuit whom I had ever seen, and that was Darius 
Williams, whom I met at the Hopbottom camp- 
meeting, and who was living in Kingston. I directed 
my steps to his house, and there found a cordial wel- 
come. Here I learned some interesting particulars 
in regard to the revival then in progress at Forty 
Fort, two miles north of Kingston. Just before Con- 
ference a camp-meeting had been held on the mount- 
ain west of the valley, about three fourths of a mile 
from the present camp ground of the Wyoming Dis- 



Wyoming Circuit — Bridgewater Circuit. 95 

trict. Philip Myers, Esq., a resident of Forty Fort, 
had a large family of sons and daughters, but not 
one of them, either parents or children, professed 
religion. The young people were gay and thought- 
less, but the novelty of a camp-meeting attracted 
them, and they took a tent and encamped on the 
ground. 

Toward the close of the meeting the spirit of 
awakening laid hold of them. The eldest daughter, 
Elizabeth, or, as she was called in the more homely 
style of the times, Betsey, was the ruling spirit of the 
circle, and the gayest of the gay. She was deeply 
convicted, and yet was fully resolved not to yield to 
her convictions, or, at all events, not to divulge them 
till she should reach home. The meeting closed, and 
the people started homeward. A long line of wagons 
and carriages, and men and women on horseback, 
interspersed with foot passengers, came down the 
mountain. A number of preachers were among 
them, Marmaduke Pierce, Elias Bowen, George 
Lane, and others. The Myers young people were 
near the head of the procession. 

About the time they reached the valley the an- 
guish of Miss Myers became so intense that she 
began to cry aloud. Her brother, who was driving, 
stopped his horses, not knowing what to do. This 
blocked the road, and spread confusion all along the 
line. Every body was inquiring, in alarm and per- 
plexity, what had happened, and people came hurry- 
ing on to the front to see. Miss Sally Denison, a 
young lady friend of the Myers, and a member of 
the Church, came up to them, and divining the true 



96 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

state of things, exclaimed, " Betsey Myers, get out of 
the wagon ; get out immediately ! " Miss Myers 
took it for granted that the object was to hold a 
prayer-meeting in her behalf under the shadow of 
the trees. She accordingly got out, and walking a 
few rods to the edge of the grove, fell upon-her knees 
and began to cry for mercy. 

The people, with several of the preachers, gathered 
about them, and there was held what, from that day 
to the present, has been called the " I^ittle Camp- 
meeting." Several hours were spent in singing, ex- 
hortation, and prayer, and ten or twelve persons 
found peace in believing. Miss "Myers not only 
found pardon, but a joy as intense as had been her 
sorrow for sin. She praised the Lord, and earnestly 
exhorted all her young associates to give their hearts 
to the Saviour. Three of her sisters and a brother- 
in-law rejoiced in the pardoning love of God. The 
story of this impromptu meeting in the grove went 
abroad, and attracted great attention, and doubtless 
was the means, in the Divine hand, of awakening 
many souls to their need of Christ. At Forty Fort 
there was a continued work going on when I reached 
the circuit. 

The next morning after my arrival I crossed the 
Susquehanna in a skiff, there being at that time no 
bridge there, and, so far as I now remember, none 
either above or below for hundreds of miles. At 
Wilkesbarre I called upon George Lane, then a local 
preacher, resident there, engaged in mercantile busi- 
ness. We had never met before, but the early ac- 
quaintance which began that day ripened into a 



Wyoming Circuit — Bridgnvatcr Circuit. 97 

warm and lasting friendship, which, I trust, will be 
renewed in the other life. In his house the preach- 
ers ever found a pleasant home, and in him a true 
friend and wise counselor. His store and residence, 
both in the same building, were on the public square, 
on the corner of Market-street. Mrs. Lane was a 
most estimable lady. Hgr name, before her mar- 
riage, was Harvey, and she was the daughter of one 
of the old settlers of Plymouth. 

The Wyoming Circuit was arranged on the two 
weeks' plan, and had twelve appointments, at all of 
which I was myself to preach, each round requiring 
me to travel one hundred and thirty-six miles. I 
preached my first sermon on the circuit in the old 
Church at Forty Fort, on Sunday morning, August 9, 
18 18, the day after my twenty-first birthday. In the 
afternoon I preached in Plymouth, and during the 
week took the range of appointments along the 
mountain west of the river. On Saturday I reached 
Wilkesbarre, where I preached the next morning in 
a church built by the citizens as a sort of union'enter- 
prise, but which, by purchase, afterward became the 
sole property of the Methodists. On Sunday after- 
noon I preached in the school-house in Hanover, 
then called Ruggles's School-house. On Monday I 
rode to Stoddardsville, where I found an extraordi- 
nary religious interest, which, on the human side, 
had an extraordinary beginning. 

Lewis Stull, a profane and thoughtless young man, 
engaged in the occupation of making shingles, had 
been living alone for weeks in a cabin in the depths 
of a dense pine forest, fearless of harm from man or 



98 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

beast. One night, as he said and verily believed, a 
frightful figure, with sable countenance and fiery eyes, 
came into his room, gazed upon him till his blood 
almost froze with terror, and then disappeared. The 
next morning, as soon as it was light, he left his 
solitary dwelling and fled to the settlement. He 
was in an agony of fear and despair, and his friends 
thought him mentally deranged. Some tried to 
convince him that it was a dream, but he steadily 
affirmed that he had not even been asleep. Others 
proposed medical treatment, but no medicine could 
reach the case. 

At last Gilbert Barnes, and a pious woman by the 
name of Alloway, long known in after years as 
Father Barnes, of Wilkesbarre, and Mother Alloway, 
of Vestal, were instrumental in bringing the light 
and hope of the blessed Gospel to this terrified and 
despairing sinner. Their instructions and prayers 
were a balm to his wounded soul. His mother had 
been pious, and doubtless her teachings were not, 
even yet, wholly forgotten. He finally found pardon 
and peace by faith in Christ. 

The story of Stull created a great local excitement, 
and gave rise to numberless discussions in all circles, 
all kinds of theories being broached, but every body 
believing that he was fully persuaded of the truth of 
his story. When I made my first visit to Stoddards- 
ville the story was fresh, and still under discussion. 1 
lodged that night at the house of Gilbert Barnes. 
Soon after I retired to rest I was called up, and 
informed that a person was under deep conviction, 
and her friends desired me to come and pray with 



Wyoming Circuit — Bridgewater Circuit. 99 

her. When I reached the place, I found the woman 
wild with terror, clinging to her husband, and ex- 
claiming, " Hold me fast ! They will have me. See 
them after me ! " About a dozen people, among them 
Mr. Barnes and Mrs. Alloway, were trying in vain to 
calm her. She wept, prayed, and uttered her cries 
of agony until we engaged in prayer, during which 
she was comparatively quiet, and then again as wild 
as ever. Finding that I could not command her at- 
tention for one moment, I soon left. The next morn- 
ing she was quiet, and said that she had seen Satan 
coming down the chimney. She and her husband 
soon after left the place, and I never heard of her 
afterward. 

The next evening after this midnight adventure I 
preached on the words, " Knowing therefore the ter- 
ror of the Lord, we persuade men." All classes of 
the community were talking about the recent strange 
events, and I had, for the place, a very large congre- 
gation. The drift of the sermon was to show the 
people that to an unsaved soul the wrath of God is 
the proper cause of alarm ; and I succeeded, by Divine 
help, in turning the attention of the people from 
alleged visions of Satan to the awful realities of the 
final judgment. Quite a number came forward desir- 
ing the prayers of God's people, and fourteen pro- 
fessed conversion, and joined the class that evening. 

On Wednesday evening, August 19, 1 preached at 
the Plains, and lodged at the house of Stephen Ab- 
bott, where I then, and ever afterward, found a pleas- 
ant home and a cordial welcome whenever I came to 
that part of the circuit. He was the grandfather of 



lOO Life and Times .of G. Peck, D.D. 

Rev. W. P. Abbott, of the New York Conference. 
Mr. Abbott and his wife were the descendants of the 
first settlers of the valley, and their family traditions 
were full of stories of Indian raids and slaughter. 
Each of them lost an uncle in the war. I was always 
happy to reach Mr. Abbott's house in my rounds. 

Thursday evening I preached at the house of Eb- 
enezer Marcy, a mile or so above the present village 
of Pitts ton ; and on Friday afternoon at the house of 
Preserved Taylor, who cultivated a little farm in a 
rather lonely neighborhood on the west bank of the 
Lackawanna. His farm now forms the most densely 
peopled portion of Hyde Park, one of the western 
wards of the city of Scranton. There was a small 
class there, of which Mother Taylor was the leader. 
She was a holy woman, earnest, full of courage and 
energy, and withal, of unbounded kindness of heart. 
P'rom this point I returned to Kingston, having com- 
pleted my first round on the circuit. I found six of 
the appointments at private houses, three in school- 
houses, and three in churches ; not one of which, 
I however, was legally our property. 

Our first quarterly meeting was held at Forty Fort 
early in September. On Saturday the presiding 
elder, Mr. Pierce, preached a short sermon, and then 
called on George Evans to exhort. This Evans was 
of Welsh descent, as his name indicates, and was a 
native orator of real fire and genius. He lived among 
the mountains, somewhere up the Susquehanna, 
where he cut cedar timber, which he brought down 
the river and sold. Hearing of our meeting, he 
pushed his raft into the eddy at Forty Fort, and came 



Wyoming Circuit — Bridgewater Circuit. loi 

ashore to enjoy if. The church was well filled with 
respectable people ; nevertheless, Evans, sunburned 
and rough, clad in his coarse raftsman's rig, stood up 
fearlessly before them, and for fifteen or twenty min- 
utes spoke with thrilling power. The people wept 
and laughed and shouted. Mr. Evans afterward 
joined the Conference, and after years of successful 
labor, died in holy triumph. 

^ The Quarterly Conference, according to the inva- 
riable custom of the times, was held on Saturday 
afternoon, and a prayer-meeting followed in the 
evening. 

Sunday was a day of Divine power. The love- 
feast began at half past eight o'clock, and lasted two 
hours, the doors being closed to all but members. 
The church was well filled. All hearts were full, 
and every tongue was loosed. Darius Williams led 
the singing with wondrous effect. There were bursts 
of holy joy, and strains of holy song, and ringing 
choruses, which rose from the old church and floated 
far and wide over the plain. 

At eleven o'clock Mr. Pierce preached a sermon, 
which, for argument, pathos, and effect, was of the 
highest order. After the sermon the sacrament of 
the Lord's Supper was administered. In the afternoon 
Mr. Pierce preached again, and the services of the oc- 
casion were ended. This day was an era in the moral 
and religious history of many who still live to remem- 
ber it, and of many who are now on the other side of 
the 'flood. 

Soon after the quarterly meeting I baptized sev- 
eral of the recent converts by immersion in the 



102 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Susquehanna, among them Mrs. Sarah Hart, of 
Kingston, and three of the daughters of Philip 
Myers. Two weeks subsequently I baptized Myron 
Helme and James Hodge, by effusion, on the bank 
of the river. Mr. Hodge became a preacher, and 
joined the Conference. Both of them died in great 
peace — Mr. Helme in his youth, Mr. Hodge after a 
long life of faithful service. The public services in 
the church at Forty Fort were crowded all througji 
the summer and autumn, and not unfrequently the 
greater part of the people present remained during 
the class-meeting, and I received many valuable 
members into the Church. Among these were Mrs. 
Gore, the sister of the late General Ross, a lady of 
most exemplary and excellent Christian character, 
and Mrs. Pettibone, who was the wife of Captain 
Oliver Pettibone, and the sister of Robert Treat 
Paine, the signer of the Declaration of Independence. 
Mrs. Pettibone was the grandmother of Hon. Paine 
Pettibone, arid the ancestor of a large circle of re- 
spectable and influential families. 

Some time in September I attended a camp-meet- 
ing in Salem, on Canaan Circuit. The ride of twen- 
ty-five miles, up the valley of the Lackawanna and 
over Cobb's mountain to the place, was exceedingly 
picturesque. There was a company of eight or ten 
of us, gentlemen and ladies, old and young, all on 
horseback, among them Marmaduke Pierce, and two 
local preachers, Caieb and Robert Kendall. The 
meeting was comparatively a small one, but not 
without good fruit. Here I first saw Aunt Polly 
Lee, as she was called by every body, and heard her 



Wyoming Circtiit — Bridgewater Circuit. 103 

pray and exhort with great power and effect. At 
this meeting I also became acquainted with Father 
•Hamlin and his family. I was invited to preach, and 
did so on the words, " Go out into the highways and 
hedges, and compel them to come in." Under this 
sermon, as I have often heard her repeat, Mrs. Sal- 
ly Stanton, of Canaan, was awakened — a Christian 
woman now safe in heaven, whose praise is in all 
the Churches. 

At the close of the meeting I took a cross route 
through the wilderness to Stoddardsville, a distance 
of twenty-seven miles. Two young men who had 
been at the camp-meeting accompanied me. There 
was no road, properly speaking ; nothing but a bri- 
dle-path, made by cutting away the^ fallen trees and 
the undergrowth. For twenty miles we saw no hu- 
man habitation. At Drinker's Beach there was a 
single log-cabin, where we stopped a little while to 
rest. 

When the chill autumn came on I had a return of 
my lung difficulty. Timely medical aid, however, 
gave me relief, and I was able to continue my labors. 
I was extremely pale and thin, and suffered almost 
constantly from weakness and pain in the chest. 1 
pursued my studies without interruption, deriving 
much valuable aid from my presiding elder, who was 
well read, and a man of fine literary taste. He ad- 
mitted me into his confidence, and treated me with 
a familiarity which, considering the disparity of years, 
1 had no reason to expect. I revered and loved him, 
and the warm friendship which was then formed con- 
tinued to the end of his life. 



I04 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

At the close of the year I reported an increase of 
sixty-nine members on the circuit. The tone of piety, 
as well as the congregations, had improved at every 
appointment. I had established regular appoint- 
ments at Leach's, in Abingdon, and at Newport, 
Carver's, Wyoming, and Blindtown, arid multiplied 
my engagements until I found myself preaching 
every day in the week. In all these labors my 
health improved, and I became hopeful of a longer 
history than I had dared to consider at all probable 
since my ilbiess on Cortland Circuit. On the loth 
of June, 1 8 19, I was married to Miss Mary Myers, 
the third daughter of Philip and Martha Myers, of 
Forty Fort. 

George Lane had entered the traveling ministry in 
1804, and, after four years of laborious service, had 
located on account of his health. This year he was 
recommended for re-admission, and he and I set off 
together, on horseback, for Vienna, where the Gene- 
see Conference was to meet. At Munday's, on the 
Tioga Circuit, I met my brother Andrew, who was 
just closing the first year of his itinerancy on that 
circuit with John Griffing. 

The Conference opened July i, 1819, Bishop 
George presiding. The question which most inter- 
ested me was in regard to my friend Dempster. 
His health was still precarious, and there was a 
warm debate on his case. Some of his friends at 
last declared that they would be personally respon- 
sible that he would never become a claimant on the 
Conference funds, and he was admitted. Two of the 
preachers were expelled for immoral conduct. Aside 



Bridgczvater Circuit and Wyoming. 105 

from these sad cases, all my recollections of the ses- 
sion are pleasant. 

At tTiis Conference I was inducted into the merits 
of the presiding elder question, which was then being 
agitated,, especially in the north and east. I took 
sides with those who wished to make the office 
elective. The General Conference was to meet the 
next May. Preparatory to the election of delegates, 
a general meeting of the members of the Conference 
was had to ascertain how opinion stood on the ques- 
tion. As it appeared that the advocates and the 
opponents of the new measure were about equal in 
number, neither party was anxious to run the chances 
of a ballot, and all agreed to an equal division of the 
delegates. The number; however, was not an even 
one, so the lot was cast to see who should have the 
odd man. The reformers, as they were called, won. 
My friends Pierce and Grant were elected, one being 
favorable and the other adverse to the proposed 
change. 

At the close of the Conference I found myself ap- 
pomted to Bridgewater Circuit, with Edward Paine, 
who had been a local preacher for many years in that 
region, and was now admitted on trial, and sent back 
to preach among his friends and neighbors. He was 
present in the Conference room, and when he heard 
our names thus announced he ran to me, and throw- 
ing his arms about my neck, testified his pleasure by 
a most vigorous and emphatic embrace. I was not 
quite as enthusiastic as he. The circuit had three 
hundred members, but the reputation of being a very 
poor one, both in piety and finances. While I was 



io6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

pondering the case, John Kimberlin met me with the 
cheering salutation, " George, Bridgewater Circuit. 
You will have to live on sorrel-pie." To modern 
ears, the edible named may sound like a myth, but it 
was not. In those regions poor and neglecied land 
was often covered with a growth of what the farm- 
ers called horse-sorrel, whose acid leaves were some- 
times utilized in much the same way that the rhubarb 
plant of later times is employed. The allusion was 
more significant than encouraging. I had not been 
married a month, and this was to be my wife's intro- 
duction to the itinerancy. 

After the adjournment I went to my father's, a hard 
three days' journey ; during which I was drenched by 
a fearful thunder storm. There I spent three days, 
including a Sabbath, on which Andrew and I preached 
to our old acquaintances and friends, a multitude of 
whom assembled to hear " the boys." I then has- 
tened to my circuit, where, on the next Sabbath, I 
began my work by preaching twice in the little old 
meeting-house at Hopbottom. Monday evening I 
preached at Springville, in John Oakley's log-house. 
On Tuesday afternoon I reached Forty Fort, and, with 
some misgivings, informed my wife of our destination. 
She received the news hopefully ; more so, indeed, 
than I did ; but we concluded not to move our goods 
till I had been round the circuit and surveyed the 
ground. 

I returned to my field of labor and commenced, 
according to the plan left me by my predecessor. I 
found that the country was new, and the people poor. 
This I could have borne ; but to meet small, dead 



Bridgewater Circuit and Wyoming. 107 

congregations, to feel that every thing was flat, and 
that nobody expected any change for the better, was 
too much for my faith. In addition to these discour- 
agements, I had a serious bilious attack. For a time 
I tried to go on with my work in spite of illness. I 
went to two appointments in succession, and found 
no congregations, no expectation of religious service. 
I then sent on notice to Snake Creek, where I found 
a little new settlement, surrounded by a dense hem- 
lock forest, and where I preached to a little gathering 
of women, not a man being present except myself. 
At the close of the sermon a motherly-looking old 
lady came up, and spoke to me in tones of kindness 
that seemed to me wonderfully sweet. " Brother," 
said she, "you look sick." I replied that I was sick. 
" Well," she rejoined, " go home with me and I will 
nurse you up." I found her living in a building 
which had been intended for a barn, a rough stone 
chimney having been added on the outside. Every 
thing, however, was as neat and clean as the prim old 
lady herself. I took some medicine and went to 
bed in the granary. The next day I was very weak, 
but felt better. Toward evening I mounted my horse 
and rode twenty miles to Vestal, my next appoint- 
ment, where I again found no congregation, there 
being no expectation of a meeting. 

The next appointment on the plan lay on the height 
east of the Choconut Creek. The place of the ex- 
pected meeting was a miserable specimen of a log- 
cabin — small, dirty, and open to all the winds that 
blew. The lady of the house was ragged, not 
over clean in person, timid and dispirited. I intro- 



io8 LiFK AND Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

duced myself as one of the preachers, and found that 
no one expected me there at that time. The poor 
woman had little to say, and after talking with her 
a few minutes I resolved to push on to "The Hem- 
locks," a distance of eight or ten miles. There was 
no road, and I was told that I could not find my way 
through the woods without a guide ; so I secured the 
services of a boy, who shouldered his rifle and led 
me through a most wild and romantic region. " The 
Hemlocks " were very near what is now called Haw- 
leyton. 

But I need not multiply details, as each day's ex- 
perience was only a virtual- repetition of the past. I 
accomplished the round, preaching where there was 
any sort of a gathering of the people, and then went 
to Kingston. I had nothing encouraging to report, 
but my wife decided to go with me to the circuit. I 
told her that she could not live there. " I can live 
where you can," was her reply. I accordingly en- 
gaged board for her at the house of my colleague, and 
in September we removed our effects thither. 

On the 13th of September there was a camp-meet- 
ing held near Carpenter's Notch, which I attended. 
Marmaduke Pierce preached a short but mighty ser- 
mon, and closed with a perfect storm. He ad- 
dressed the wicked with tremendous power, and 
then, exclaiming, " I feel the Spirit of God upon me, 
glory, halleluiah ! " dropped down upon the seat behind 
him, shouting, weeping, laughing, wonderfully moved. 
The joyous responses from the preachers and the 
assemblage arose like the sound of many waters, 
while the whole congregation shook like the forest 



Bridgewater Circuit and Wyoming. 109 

in a mighty wind. The exhortations of the presiding 
elder, George Lane, were overwhelming. Sinners 
quailed under them, and many cried aloud for mercy. 
The meeting included the Sabbath, and continued 
about a week. Sixty persons professed to find peace, 
and thirty joined the Church. 

Of course the people of God could not expect all 
this to be quietly received by the adversary. Two 
ladies, connected with prominent families of Wyoming 
Valley, were convicted and came forward to the 
prayer circle. The husband of one of them and the 
brother of the other were enraged, and soundly de- 
nounced the Methodists for " scaring the women to 
death." The brother was bold enough to come up 
and take his sister away from the place. She gave 
way before his displeasure, ceased to seek the Saviour, 
and, after living many years without hope in Christ, 
died, so far as I learned, without hope. . 

Darius Williams, the son of the Williams of mu- 
sical fame, fell helpless in a prayer-meeting, and lay 
for two hours in his father's arms, and on his re- 
suscitation declared that he had found peace. He 
afterward became a preacher, and, after two or three 
years' labor among the Methodists, joined the Pres- 
byterians, and began preaching against the doc- 
trines which he had once held, and denouncing the 
modes and experiences which he himself had once 
cultivated. 

From the Wyoming camp-meeting I returned to 
my circuit, and prosecuted my work with considera- 
ble comfort and some hope. My colaborer, Mr. 
Paine, was a holy man, acceptable every- where. At 



no Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

several points our congregations visibly increased, 
and the work of God commenced to revive. When 
conversions began to occur among us, the Baptists, 
by whom we were surrounded, began to practice 
their usual strategy. There were two preachers of 
that persuasion within the bounds of the circuit who 
were deep on the water question, but very shallow in 
the rest of their doctrine. They held a foggy kind 
of Unitarianism, denying both the divinity and the 
humanity of Christ. These men were very attentive 
to our converts. On my first round of the circuit I 
had a chance to hear one of them preach. His ser- 
mon was wholly controversial, and aimed directly at 
the Methodists, whose doctrine and usages he totally 
misrepresented. His false statements provoked me 
to write him a letter, which led to an epistolary con- 
troversy between us. I studied the subject, and 
began to discuss the modes and subjects of baptism 
in my sermons with good effect among our own 
people, and to the annoyance of our pugnacious 
assailants. 

Our first quarterly meeting was at Hunt's Ferry. 
On Saturday George- Lane preached in a little log 
school-house, and on Sunday in an unfinished dwell- 
ing-house belonging to John Bunnell, which accom- 
modated a large congregation. When Mr. Lane 
ended his discourse, Sunday morning, I preached, by 
request, a sermon on baptism. We then proceeded 
to the river, and, the elder declining to officiate, I 
baptized several children by sprinkling, and several 
adults by immersion. 

We had some valuable accessions at Hunt's Ferry. 



Bridgewater Circuit and Wyoming. 1 1 1 

The work extended, also, up the Mehoopany Creek, 
and we had a fine revival at the Forks, now called 
Forkston. Here, in the winter, I baptized several 
converts by immersion, my clothes freezing upon me 
before I could change them. I spent one sad Sab- 
bath at what was called the Neck. On my way to 
my appointment I came to the river, and found a 
great concourse of people gathered on the banks. 
Mrs. Prentiss, the wife of Captain Prentiss, and an 
estimable member of our Church, had been drowned 
that morning, and the people had come from far and 
near to search for the body. We searched all day 
in vain ; nor was the body found till the next spring, 
when it was discovered floating thirty miles below, 
at the head of Wyoming Valley. I preached the 
funeral sermon. 

In addition to the Baptist skirmish, we had a speck 
of theological war at Hopbottom. Dr. Nathan Bangs 
had had a public debate in New York with the Rev. 
Dr. Williston, of the Presbyterian Church, and the 
discussion was continued by means of the press. 
Each disputant published two volumes, copies of 
which found their way to our circuit, and were read 
by our people. One of our class leaders read them, 
and became exceedingly belligerent — ready to attack 
Calvinism anywhere. He finally came into colHsion 
with the Rev. G. N. Judd, a Presbyterian, who 
preached once in four weeks at Hopbottom, and 
arrangements were made for a public debate. When 
the time arrived, and the parties met, the valorous 
class leader's courage had somewhat cooled, and he 
desired that I should take his place, and appoint an- 



112 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

other day for a debate. Mr. Judd consented, and the 
day was appointed for the discussion. 

This arrangement created no little excitement, and 
at the time appointed it was thought a great crowd 
would be likely to assemble. About an hour before 
the debate was to begin I received a note from Mr. 
Judd, saying that it was not convenient for him to 
meet me at that time. I replied, asking him to name 
another day. Ten days after I received a reply from 
him, declining the public debate altogether, saying 
that the contemplated discussion would be likely to 
prove detrimental to the cause of religion in general. 
I felt some disappointment at the result, and regret- 
ted it then much more than I do now. 

An aifair occurred in the fall, within the bounds of 
the circuit, which may be worth relating. A young 
man, who had been at work down the river during 
the summer, was on his way home. Not far from 
Tunkhannock he fell in company with another trav- 
eler, a stout, rough fellow. They reached Montrose 
in the evening, and the young man proposed that 
they should remain there till morning. The other 
urged him to go on further, and they proceeded. 
About two miles from the village the stranger 
knocked down the young man, and pounded his 
head with stones till he thought that his victim was 
killed, and then robbing him of his watch and money, 
left him weltering in his blood. The wounded man 
recovered his senses while the work of plundering 
was going on, but he had the rare self-control to keep 
silent and motionless till the robber left him. 

Faint and bleeding, he made his way to a house 



Bridgewater Ciraiit and Wyoming. 113 

and gave the alarm. Intelligence was sent to Mont- 
rose, and a large number of men started out in pur- 
suit of the villain. He was on strange ground, and 
had lost his way, and the sheriff overtook him at sun- 
rise not far from the scene of his murderous deeds. 
Drawing a knife he severely wounded the sheriff, 
and fled to the woods. All day a multitude, with 
dogs and guns, hunted for him without success. In 
the evening he came into the settlement on Snake 
Creek, and entering the cabin of an old man, whose 
name was Chalker, asked for something to eat. 
While the old lady was preparing the supper a 
neighbor entered and whispered to Mr. Chalker, and 
then went out to secure help. The story of the out- 
rage had reached the place, and every body was look- 
ing for the culprit. 

The robber, too, was watchful. He saw the hasty 
consultation, and divined its meaning. He moved 
toward the door, saying that he " wished to step out 
just a moment." Mr. Chalker placed himself against 
the door, and said he must not go out. The robber 
drew his knife, but before he could use it Mr. Chalker 
knocked him down with a chair, and then fell upon 
him, calling to his wife to bring him a rope. But the 
robber was young and strong, and he rose to his feet 
with the weight of the old soldier's slight frame upon 
him. Then the old lady came into the battle. The 
two succeeded in throwing the highwayman down, 
and the woman got her rope around his neck, and 
he surrendered at once, imploring them not to choke 
him to death. When the neighbors rushed in they 
found the robber prostrate, Mr. Chalker lying across 



114 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

his legs, and Mrs. Chalker holding the rope just tight 
enough to keep him powerless and submissive. I 
saw the culprit the next morning at Great Bend in 
the hands of the officers. He seemed to be more 
troubled at the idea of being captured by two old 
people than in view of his crime. The injured man 
recovered ; the robber was sent to prison for twenty- 
one years. 

In April, at the close of the third quarter, I was 
removed from Bridgewater Circuit to Wyoming to 
supply the place of Mr. Pierce, who had been elected 
a delegate to fhe General Conference, and wished to 
be released for the rest of the year. We were kindly 
received at my' father-in-law's, where we remained 
until the session of the Conference. I was grieved 
to find that in many places on the circuit the relig- 
ious interest had declined. In June I attended a 
camp-meeting on Bridgewater Circuit. Some good 
was done. My old colleague, Mr. Paine, was present, 
but seemed pensive and unusually quiet. He was 
drowned in the Susquehanna a few days afterward. 

The sudden departure of Mr. Paine deeply affected 
me. We had labored together in great harmony 
while I was on the circuit. He had generously 
opened his doors to me, and was a true friend. He 
was a man of simple manners and unaffected piety, a 
little eccentric, but sincere and open-hearted. He 
always preached sound doctrine and good sense, was 
universally beloved, and very useful. His name was 
"as ointment poured forth." He will have many 
stars in his crown in the day of his rejoicing. 

In summing up the results of the year's labors I 



Bridgewater Circuit and Wyofning. 115 

could not complain that I ha;d preached in vain. 
Souls had been converted, and the Church quick- 
ened. In regard to finances, the showing was not so 
satisfactory. On Bridgewater Circuit I received 
forty dollars for the nine months spent there. For 
the three months on Wyoming I received nothing. 
At the Conference I received eighteen dollars from 
the Conference funds, making the receipts of the 
year fifty-eight dollars. Many years afterward, din- 
ing with Bishop Hedding at the house of a mutual 
friend in the city of New York, the conversation 
turned upon the "good old times," and the Bishop 
said to me : 

'' Brother Peck, how small a, salary did you ever 
receive in any one year of your ministry .' " 

I thought of the year whose history has just been 
narrated, and answered, " Fifty-eight dollars. What 
was your smallest, Bishop .' " 

" Four dollars," replied the Bishop. 

The Conference met this year at Niagara, on the 
Canada side. My wife desired to see the great falls, 
then a still greater wonder than now, because very 
few comparatively had visited them. I procured a 
one-horse wagon, with wooden springs, and we set 
off, and in three days reached Ithaca, where we spent 
the Sabbath. On the next Tuesday I met my brother 
Andrew, and went with him to a camp-meeting on 
the Holland Purchase, where we had rather a dull 
time, with few indications of good. We resumed 
our way toward Niagara, and passed along the Ridge 
road, and at the end of a two-weeks' journey, reached 
our place of destination. 



ii6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

The Conference began its session on the 20th of 
July, 1820, Bishop George presiding. The place of 
meeting was a little church at Lundy's Lane, where 
one of the hardest battles of the recent war had been 
fought. There were members of the Conference 
present who were in that battle, and not all on the 
same side. The boarding-place assigned my wife 
and myself was two miles from the church. The 
host and his wife were renegade Americans and 
backslidden Methodists, who must needs be perpet- 
ually parading their royalist notions, and assailing 
" the Yankees." We bore this style of talk till pa- 
tience ceased to be a virtue, and then left them, and 
found more agreeable quarters elsewhere. 

At this Conference I was ordained elder by Bishop 
George, and thus terminated my probation for the 
full powers and responsibilities of the Christian min- 
istry. The Bishop's manner of performing the ordi- 
nation service was always characterized by solemnity 
and earnestness. In all his public ministrations,' in- 
deed, there was a pathos and a power which left deep 
and permanent impressions. My heart was greatly 
moved by the sacred and weighty responsibilities 
thus laid upon me, and I left the church with firm 
purposes of soul to be more completely given up to 
God and his work. 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 117 



CHAPTER V. 

I&20, CANAAN CIRCUIT l82I, PARIS 1822-3, UTICA. 

I WAS appointed on Canaan Circuit. We imme- 
diately began our journey homeward, visiting, as 
we went, such places or objects of interest as lay in 
our path. We visited the British Fort George, at the 
mouth of the Niagara River, and had also a beauti- 
ful view of the American side, with Fort Niagara just 
opposite. Around us, on the Canada side, were the 
charred remains of the village which had been burned 
by the Americans during the war. 

We returned by the Ridge road to Rochester, 
which was then a new village, with stumps, logs, and 
brush-heaps scattered among the buildings. We 
passed through Auburn, stopping long enough to 
visit the prison, little anticipating the fact that I was 
to be chaplain there in after years. We visited my 
brother Luther, and, in company with him, went to 
Hamilton to spend a few days with our father and 
mother. We reached Kingston about the middle of 
August. 

Early the next week I set off for my new field of 
labor. I found it a two-weeks' circuit, with a mem- 
bership of two hundred and twenty-three, and twelve 
preaching-places, one of them being the court-house 
at Bethany, three or four school-houses, and the rest 
private houses — not one church. After three weeks' 



ii8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

labor I returned to Kingston, and on ray way had a 
narrow escape. As I was crossing a deep, sluggish 
stream between Salem and Cobb's, the bridge gave 
way, and fell with a crash into the gulf beneath. 
The spirited horse upon which I was mounted saved 
me by springing forward with a lightning quickness 
which almost threw me from the saddle. 

I remained at my father-in-law's a few days, during 
which I attended a camp-meeting held at Carpenter's 
Notch, on the same ground where the last year's 
meeting was held. It was a successful meeting. 
Several young persons from Wilkesbarre were con- 
verted, among them Miss Hannah Slocum, afterward 
the wife of Judge Bennet ; a Christian lady now 
gone to her reward, but whose praise is in all the 
Churches. 

At the close of the camp-meeting Father Hamlin 
took my wife and child, and our household goods, in 
his great lumber wagon, while I rode on horseback, 
and we made a most fatiguing journey, nearly all the 
way in the rain, from Kingston, up the valley and 
across Cobb's Mountain to Salem, a distance of thirty 
miles. The road over the mountain, which was ten 
miles, passes description ; all the way over rocks which 
tossed the wagon and "its contents about, and seemed 
every moment to threaten total wreck. My wife sat 
under the cloth cover, on a little chest, holding the 
infant in her arms, while I rode on my horse. We 
began the weary journey about sunrise, and reached 
Father Hamlin's house at Salem about dusk. Here 
we found a comfortable home. Father Hamlin 
offered us a part of his house for the year, and we 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 119 

gladly accepted it. We boarded with him a part of 
the time, and he also kept my horse when I was at 
home, and at the end of the year he refused to re- 
ceive one cent for all that he had done for us. He 
was a man of generous impulses and solid worth, an 
earnest Christian, and a thorough Methodist. His 
wife was a kind-hearted, deeply pious, and sensible 
lady ; and their daughter, now Mrs. Baldwin, of St. 
Anthony's Falls, Minnesota, a very acceptable com- 
panion and friend of my wife. All our recollections 
of our stay in this hospitable dwelling are very 
pleasant. 

The work on Canaan Circuit was hard. It lay 
in the region known as the Beech Woods. It was 
sparsely settled, and the chief occupation of the 
people was clearing their land, and winning farms 
from the original forest, which still covered by far the 
greater portion of the country. The roads were sim- 
ply wagon paths, made by cutting away the trees and 
undergrowth so as to admit of a passage, provided 
the driver was skillful in winding about among rocks 
and stumps. They were so narrow that the dense 
foliage of the trees shut out the sun, and, in conse- 
quence, they were always muddy in the warm season, 
except where the rocks were bare. Through the 
swamps the roads were of, the style called in some 
sections of our land, " corduroy ; " but the poles of 
which they were constructed were often decayed, and 
the way unsafe. When winter came, and the mud 
began to freeze, it was still worse. My poor horse 
became sore and stiff, and almost broke down. He 
often halted on the edge of some icy Slough of 



120 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Despond, and could be forced into it only by a sharp 
application of the spur. 

There was, however, a bright side of the picture. 
I was cordially received, my congregations were large, 
and there was life among the people, with about 
enough of opposition to awaken healthy activity. I 
found myself unexpectedly popular at Bethany, the 
county-seat. This I attributed to the good offices of 
my friend the Hon. David Scott, the circuit judge, 
who spoke well of me among his associates and the 
leading men of Wayne County. My congregations 
there included the most respectable families of the 
place. 

My health suffered somewhat this year from hard 
work and exposure ; and it was with much difficulty 
that I endured the cold, and met my appointments. 
A few illustrations of the poverty and the spirit of 
the people may not be out of place. It may be said,' 
in general terms, that there was no money in circu- 
lation. I often had presents of stockings, yarn, meal, 
butter, pork, cheese, rye, and corn, and sometimes 
payments of salary were made in these articles. To 
make this liberality available, I was obliged to carry 
these cumbrous benefactions, even rye and wheat, 
on my horse, with my clothes and books. At the 
last quarterly meeting a good sister paid in a quan- 
tity of maple sugar, which she had brought fifteen 
miles, making the journey on horseback. In fact, so 
much of my support came in the shape of maple 
sugar, that we had more than a supply for home use, 
and I traded off the surplus for a set of wooden bot- 
tomed chairs, of which I am able to add, to the credit 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 121 

of the man who made them, that they are still in 
existence. 

It is hardly necessary to add that my ministry was 
not making me rich in the goods of this world. My 
receipts the preceding year had been only fifty-eight 
dollars. My clothes were wearing out. My mother-in- 
law, Mrs. Myers, had spun and woven a piece of cloth, 
and sent it to the fulling-mill to receive the finishing 
touch ; and when it was done I was to have a suit 
of the goodly fabric. But the fuller delayed, and 
winter came, and I was really suffering. A brother 
who lived near Bethany saw the state of things, and 
one day said to me, " Brother Peck, I think we are 
about of a size." I replied, " I suppose we are." He 
then brought out a new coat, and asked me to try it 
on. I did so, not suspecting his design. " It fits 
you exactly," said he ; " now wear it till you get 
another." I objected, but he would take no denial. 
'' You shall do it," said he, resolutely. Thus I wore 
Myron Whitmore's coat for six weeks. He was a 
brother indeed. 

In regard to the Church and the cause, the year 
was a good one. There was no general revival, and 
the increase of members was small ; but we had some 
valuable accessions. Our people were encouraged, 
and our prospects brightened. I had not neglected 
personal improvement. Under all the disadvantages 
of this year, as well as the preceding one, I had pur- 
sued my studies with some success. I found some 
works in the possession of certain families who had 
immigrated from England and settled in the Beech 
Woods. Among them were Stackhouse's System of 



122 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Divinity, Wesley's Philosophy, Bishop Berkeley's 
Minute Philosopher, and some of the Bampton Lect- 
ures. These I devoured with great relish, and from 
them contracted a taste for the English literature of 
their age. The writings of the old English bishops 
thenceforth had a strong attraction, and no doubt 
strongly influenced my modes of thought. 

I loved the people on Canaan Circuit, but I began 
to feel that such fields of labor were not suited either 
to my mental or physical constitution. My physical 
strength was too severely taxed ; and I also greatly 
desired larger opportunities for study. 

In July, 1 82 1, the Genesee Conference met at 
Sauquoit, or Paris, and was a pleasant occasion. On 
Sunday morning Bishop George preached .a sermon, 
which wonderfully excited the audience, and called 
forth a universal shout. In the afternoon we had two 
sermons in the grove ; first, Henry Ryan preached, 
and immediately afterward, Thomas Mason. On 
Monday evening, I was called for the first time to 
preach in the presence of a bishop, and did so, with 
some liberty, before a crowded congregation. I was 
told that at the next meeting of the Bishop and elders. 
Bishop George, without asking any questions, wrote 
down my name on his list, saying, " I have stationed 
one man, anyhow." When the appointments were 
announced I found myself appointed to Paris, the seat 
of the Conference. Paris was then a station. There 
were at that time only three or four in the entire 
Conference. I had expected, of course, to be sent 
again to a circuit ; and felt some trepidation in view 
of the responsibilities of my new position. 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 123 

After a brief visit to our friends at Forty Fort we 
again crossed Cobb's mountain in a little old-style 
buggy which I had purchased, and which almost 
upset several times among the rocks. Tarrying a 
night at Father Hamlin's, we set off Wednesday 
morning for Paris, and, after four days' weary travel, 
reached the place at ten o'clock Saturday night, and 
were kindly received by the venerable Elijah Davis. 
We found that the stewards had rented for our ac- 
commodation one room, not a large one, in Mr. Davis's 
house. The rent was twelve dollars for the year, and 
this, they said, was all that they could afford. 

The Sauquoit, or Paris Church, was perhaps the 
oldest in the Genesee Conference, and there was a 
strong Society for these times. The building had 
just been put in good order, and the trustees had 
rented the pews. Bishop George opposed this ar- 
rangement strongly, and threatened to leave them 
without a preacher if they did not return to the free- 
seat system. " I give you," said he, " one year to 
repent." The brethren made no promise, nor ut- 
tered any threat, but quietly continued their plan, 
and we heard nothing more about it. 

I soon found that a station is a very different thing 
from a circuit. I was called to preach twice every 
Sabbath to the same congregation. These services 
were in the morning and the afternoon, and in the 
evening we had a prayer-meeting. There was no 
Sabbath-school. I could no longer devote the greater 
part of my time to general reading, and prepare my 
sermons at irregular periods when all things were 
favorable. Preaching was now an affair of labor and 



124 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

anxiety, and preparation for it became a department 
of daily toil. My position demanded a constant sup- 
ply of new sermons, thoroughly elaborated, and how- 
ever much they cost me, however well they were 
~ received, they could be delivered only once in my 
charge. 

This change of circumstances produced a corre- 
sponding change in my methods. In my sermons I 
no longer dealt in generalities, or traversed large 
spaces in a single discourse, but took up specific 
topics and discussed them logically. I had a fine 
congregation, and all the circumstances of my posi- 
tion were such as tended to create interest and 
awaken my zeal. My plans of study, whether wise 
or otherwise, were definite and laborious. I now had 
access to Clarke's Commentary on the Historical 
Books of the Old Testament, Dr. Scott's Notes on 
the Prophets, and Dr. Coke's Commentary on the 
New Testament. I began all these three authors at 
once, reading a chapter in each, with the notes, every 
day, and completed them during the year. To this 
I added a regular course of history, which included 
the works of Prideaux and Harmer. I wrote but 
little. 

This year would have been the most pleasant of 
my ministry had it not been for a foolish disturbance 
in regard to the singing. The momentous question 
was, whether we should have a choir in the gallery, 
or let a good brother start the tunes among the peo- 
ple. Hobart Graves, who had been accustomed to 
lead in the congregation, favored the choir, and gave 
me notice that he would lead no more. We called a 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 125 

meeting of the Church, and held a solemn consulta- 
tion, which showed that the leading members were 
favorable to the choir, and that a small portion were 
wholly opposed to it. The next Sunday the choir 
were in their places in the gallery in good season. 

The leader of the opposition was one of the stew- 
ards, a man of property, who always came to church 
in his carriage, with a remarkably fine pair of grays. 
He, too, was at the church early that morning, and 
saw what was in the wind. He came to meet me as 
I was going to church, and asked, in a rather rough 
way, if the singing was to be in the gallery. I an- 
swered that it was to be there for the present. 

" Then," said he, " I shall leave. I have got a span 
of horses which can carry me to meeting where the 
singing is not given up to the wicked." 

And he straightway brought his carriage to the 
door, took in his wife, cracked his whip with great 
emphasis, and drove to the Presbyterian church, 
where the singing was conducted in the very way to 
which he was so intensely hostile. He never re- 
turned to us, and the Church suffered no material 
loss by his departure. The affair, ridiculous as it 
now seems, was the cause of much anxiety and men- 
tal discomfort. 

On the 24th of July, 1822, the Genesee Conference 
met at Vienna, Ontario County. I went to Confer- 
ence in company with the Rev. Charles Giles, who 
was at that time the presiding elder on the Chenango 
District, but lived at Paris. I had been acquainted 
with him from my childhood, and had great respect 
for him ; but his deportment among the people as he 



126 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

passed around his district gave me a still higher idea 
of his piety. He possessed a great deal of humor, 
and, on occasion, could write satirical verse, not par- 
ticularly elegant, but not destitute of force. A little 
poem, written in a sort of Hudibrastic style, and en- 
titled the " Dagon of Calvinism," shows the sharp wit 
of the man, and also illustrates, in a humorous way, 
the style in which the Methodist preachers in those 
days sometimes dealt with the doctrines which they 
opposed. Poor man, I could not see how he man- 
aged to maintain so cheerful an air when his home, 
as I was well aware, was a very purgatory of domestic 
infelicity. He went to Conference on this occasion 
with sundry scratches on his face, to explain which 
would have been exceedingly embarrassing to him. 
He was devotedly attached to his wife, but was abso- 
lutely compelled to separate from her. The curious 
part of the history is this : although their affairs were 
brought before the public in a legal process, which 
resulted in his being released from all obligation to 
support her, and they lived separate for perhaps thirty 
years, yet when Mr. Giles, in old age, was on his 
death-bed, his wife returned and nursed him with 
tenderest care to the end. 

Bishop Roberts presided at the Conference, and 
the business passed off as usual, without any occur- 
rence of special note. I preached before the Con- 
ference under very unfavorable circumstances, and, 
as I thought, made a failure, and was duly criticised 
by some of that class of brethren who feel that they 
have a mission to cultivate the grace of humility in 
other people. 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 127 

I was stationed this time at Utica, where was a 
small Society, and yet one of the most important 
points in the Conference. Our affairs had not been 
wisely managed. Some ten years previously an at- 
tempt had been made to build a church two miles 
out of town to accommodate the people of New Hart- 
ford as well as those of Utica. A frame building 
was begun, and when partly finished was used as a 
place of worship. Finding that instead of accommo- 
dating both places it accommodated neitherj the site 
was abandoned to its former owner, and another situ- 
ation in the extreme eastern part of Utica was pur- 
chased, and a small brick church erected. We were 
still in the wrong place, but had to make the best of 
it. Sabbath morning, when the weather was favora- 
ble, I had a good congregation, but a little rain some- 
times reduced our numbers to a mere handful. We 
have grown wiser by experience, and now are more 
careful in locating our church edifices. 

I now had an excellent opportunity for study 
and improvement. I had access to several respect- 
able private libraries. I attended book auctions, and 
strained my means to the utmost, and possibly beyond 
reason, to secure what T needed. I read much, stud- 
ied hard, and wrote more than I had hitherto done. 
I tried not to waste a moment of precious time. I 
read Clarke, as fast as the successive numbers were 
published ; and also Benson, whose Commentary be- 
gan to be published this year. I read the mental 
philosophies of Payne, Reid, and Stewart, and some 
of the principal authors in the Episcopal Contro- 
versy. I paid attention to the preparation of ser- 



128 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

mons, using few of the sketches made in former 
years. 

In the autumn, illness and death invaded my fa- 
ther's family. On the 8th of November my Uncle 
Isaac Collar, who had been declining for some years, 
passed peacefully away. The various stages of life 
with him seemed to be diminished in proportion to 
his diminutive stature, and at the age of thirty-five 
he was an old man. Soon after his death, several 
members of the family were attacked with a malig- 
nant typhus fever ; and one week after the death of 
our uncle, my sister Mary died in triumphant hope of 
heaven. She was twenty-two years of age, and had 
been a member of the Church eleven years. She 
possessed great amiability of character, and extraordi- 
nary powers of mind. She was the first called away 
by death, of a family of eleven children. When her 
remains were buried, my Sister Elizabeth fell upon 
her knees, with her face almost touching the fresh 
earth, in silent prayer. A few days after we were 
called to lay her down in her last rest, by the side of 
her whose departure we theii mourned. I wrote an 
account of those dear ones, for " The Methodist 
Magazine " of that year. My father and mother were 
also attacked by the fever, and brought apparently 
to the verge of the grave, but ultimately recovered. 

On the 15th of July, 1823, the Conference met at 
Westmoreland, Oneida County. The most notable 
feature of the session was the renewed agitation in re- 
gard to the election of presiding elders. The Gen- 
eral Conference was to hold its session before we 
should meet again ; apd, consequently, we were to 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 1 29 

elect our delegates. Four years before, as will be 
remembered, the friends and the opponents of the 
new measure agreed to divide the delegation equally. 
This time the friends of the proposed change resolved 
to nominate a full ticket, and risk a ballot. They 
succeeded in electing all their men. The older mem- 
bers of the Conference were dismayed at the result, 
and predicted the certain ruin of the Church. Some 
of. them spoke in somewhat disparaging terms of the 
brethren elected, styling them "a pack of boys." I 
was the youngest man in the delegation : the major- 
ity were of respectable age and standing, and we were 
all loyal to the Church. We favored only one change 
in the methods of the Church ; and as time passed 
on, and the proposed measure was more fully exam- 
ined, the desire to see it adopted declined, and finally 
the project was wholly abandoned. I was returned 
to Utica for another year. 

In April, 1824, I removed my family to Wyoming 
Valley, and started for the General Conference, in 
company with Loring Grant and Gideon Lanning, who 
came down from Western New York on their way to 
Baltimore. They rode in a carriage with two horses, 
one geared before the other in tandem style. They 
invited me to a seat in their vehicle, and with this 
rather novel turnout we crossed the Pokono Mount- 
ain, and in three days reached Philadelphia. Here 
we found the Philadelphia Conference in session. 
We remained two days in the city, and I preached 
twice, once in St. George's Church, Saturday even- 
ing, when I thought I made a failure, and the second 
time in the Academy, Sunday evening. 
9 



130 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

On Monday, April 26, we left Philadelphia, reached 
Port Deposit on Wednesday, where we left our horses 
and took passage on a steamboat, and arrived at Bal- 
timore the next day early in the afternoon. On Fri- 
day, May I, the General Conference began its session. 
The three bishops, M'Kendree, George, and Roberts, 
presided. Bishop M'Kendree's health was not good, 
and he was evidently beginning to wane. I never 
saw Bishop Roberts appear to equal advantage. He 
and Bishop George performed their duties with great 
dignity and propriety. The debates and the general 
dispatch of business were creditable to the body ; 
and, I judge, equal to those of any succeeding Gen- 
eral Conference. 

There was a very long discussion on " Rules and 
Orders." Dr. Capers, of the South Carolina Confer- 
ence, objected to the old rules on the ground of their 
being too complicated. He was appointed chairman 
of a committee to prepare new ones^ and in due .time 
reported a code far more complicated than the old. 
His report was discussed at great length, perhaps 
three or four days. He argued in favor of his work- 
manship, making a speech on every point, and' gener- 
ally succeeding in securing its adoption. I was struck 
with the fact that he was supported in almost every 
case by the delegates from the South and the West, 
and opposed by those of the North and East. This 
debate, the appeals of William Burke and Joseph 
Crawford, and the reading of petitions and memori- 
als, occupied about two weeks of the session. 

I was much interested in noting the methods of 
the various speakers. Dr. Capers was ready and 



Caftaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 131 

animated, and occupied his full share of the time. 
James Smith, of Baltimore, was a powerful speaker, 
but was more of the orator than the debater. Ezekiel 
Cooper and Wilbur Fisk I thought models. William 
Burke's defense was bold and telling, but not wholly 
free from evasions and cunning devices. The ques- 
tion in regard to presiding elders did not occupy 
much space, being disposed of for the time being by 
passing again the resolution of 1820, which suspended 
action in the case. 

The other prominent questions of the session were 
those of providing a constitutional test, lay delegation, 
and the election of bishops. The constitutional test 
question was a proposal to establish a sort of ecclesi- 
astical supreme court, which should sit in judgment 
on the validity of the acts of the General Conference 
itself The idea was suggested by Bishop M'Kendree's 
declaring the election of presiding elders unconstitu- 
tional. After some talk the project was laid aside, 
and has never been revived. The lay-delegation 
movement was feeble, and, although it was discussed, 
nothing more was done. While this subject was 
pending, William Winans, of the Mississippi Confer- 
ence, made a speech which was devoid of the grace 
of oratory, but was much applauded by the opponents 
. of change. 

The election of bishops attracted great attention. 
On the 19th of May the Committee on Episcopacy 
reported in favor of electing two ; and two parties, a 
Northern and Southern, were at once developed. The 
Northern delegates met in council in my room, which 
was large and convenient. We resolved to select 



132 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

two candidates ; and when nominations were called 
for, Elijah Hedding and John Emory were named. 
Mr. Hedding, who was present, was requested to re- 
tire to another room, while his qualifications were 
discussed. He did so, but not without reluctance, 
and not until he had earnestly begged that his name 
might jiot be used in connection with the Episcopal 
office. When I went to call him into the room again, 
I found him standing with his face to the wall, weep- 
ing and groaning. We nominated Mr. Hedding and 
John Emory by a unanimous vote. The Southern 
and Western delegates nominated Joshua Soule and 
William Beauchamp. 

On Wednesday morning. May 26, the election took 
place. The number of votes was one hundred and 
twenty-eight, which made sixty-five necessary to elect. 
On the first ballot J. Soule had sixty-four votes, W. 
Beauchamp sixty-two, E. Hedding sixty-one, and 
J. Emory fifty-nine. The second ballot gave Soule 
sixty-five, Beauchamp sixty-two, Hedding sixty-one, 
and Emory fifty-seven. Mr. Soule was declared duly 
elected, and Mr. Emory declined in favor of Mr. Hed- 
ding. The third ballot gave Mr. Hedding sixty-six 
votes, and he was elected. 

Nathan Bangs was elected Book Agent, and J. 
Emory, Assistant Book Agent Mr. Emory was un- 
derstood to be favorable to lay delegation and the 
election of presiding elders, and for this reason had 
lost favor ia his Conference, the Baltimore men being 
averse to all changes. He was one af the ablest men 
of the Church, had been a delegate to several Gen- 
eral Conferences, and also to the English Wesleyans. 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 133 

On account of their views, Mr. Emory, B. Waugh, 
and J. Davis had all been left out of the Baltimore 
delegation. The delegates from the North and East 
sided with the proscribed brethren, and succeeded in 
electing at least one of them to an important posi- 
tion, Mr. Emory, though not a delegate, being elected 
Secretary of the General Conference. The contest 
was animated, but not in a bad spirit. 

During the month which we spent at the Confer- 
ence I sought every opportunity to hear the best 
■preachers of the Church. I heard the immortal 
Summerfield in one of his happiest efforts, also Wil- 
bur Fisk, Samuel Merwin, James Smith, William 
Ross, Thomas L. Douglass, Lovick Pierce, and oth- 
ers. Richard Reece and John Hannah were dele- 
gates from the British Conference. Mr. Reece was a 
man of venerable appearance. His speeches in the 
General Conference were plain, sensible, and to the 
point, but were uttered in some kind of provincial 
English, which seemed a little uncouth. His ser- 
mons were respectable, but scarcely equal in interest 
and power to those of Mr. Hannah. 

The first missionary meeting which I ever attended 
was one held in the Light-street Church. The speak- 
ers were Messrs. Reece, Hannah, Summerfield, and 
Finley.' Mr. Finley was then missionary among the 
Wyandotte Indians, and gave us some thrilling inci- 
dents connected with his work. 

The General Conference adjourned on the 28th of 
May, having transacted a considerable amount of 
business. The next day we set out for home, trav- 
eling by water to Port Deposit, and there resuming 



134 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

our carriage and tandem team. I reached Wyoming 
on Friday, June 4. Less than two months remain- 
ing of the conference year, I left my family in the 
valley, and returned to my charge. During this 
period the Rev. Freeborn "Garrettson, with his wife 
and daughter, spent several weeks in Utica, visiting 
General Lynch. He preached for me several times, 
and once in the First Presbyterian Church, and was 
heard with great interest. Bishops George and Red- 
ding spent the Sabbath before Conference with us, 
and attracted great attention. I took Bishop George 
to Conference in my carriage, and found his conver- 
sation very interesting and instructive. 

My two years in Utica had passed very pleasantly, 
and with a fair degree of success. I had found favor 
with the people. The religious tone of the Church 
had improved, and the number of members had 
nearly doubled. I had made progress in study, and 
formed friendships with many excellent people. I 
received about two hundred 'dollars a year during 
my pastorate at Utica. 

On July 25, 1824, the Genesee Conference met at 
Lansing, Cayuga County, Bishop George presiding, 
assisted by Bishop Hedding. Few of the Canada 
brethren were present, the late General Conference 
having constituted a new Conference out of that part 
of our territory. 

At this session I was chairman of the Committee 
on Education. The trustees of the Church at Caze- 
novia sent a communication to the Conference, pro- 
posing to remodel their church, and open a seminary 
in the edifice, on condition that it should be adopted 



Canaan Circuit — Paris — Utica. 135 

as the Conference school. I drew up the report, 
recommending the acceptance of the proposal, and 
the project was carried into effect that year. 

At the close of the Conference my name was read 
off for the Wyoming Circuit, and William Case, who 
had been laboring ten years or more in the Canadian 
part of the Conference, and now wished to return to 
the States, was appointed presiding elder of the Sus- 
quehanna District. I went to the valley, procured a 
wagon and pair of horses, and went up after some 
household goods left at Paris. The expedition oc- 
cupied two weeks. When I reached home I found 
that a young preacher, Joseph Castle, had come from 
Canada with a letter from Bishop George, informing 
me that Mr. Case could not be spared from that part 
of the work, and that I was appointed presiding elder 
in his place. Mr. Castle was directed to travel Wy- 
oming Circuit. The letter was not for consultation, 
but direction, and its action was final. 



136 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 



CHAPTER VI: 

1824-5, SUSQUEHANNA DISTRICT 1826-7, WILKES- 

BARRE 1828, ITHACA. 

IN 1824 the Susquehanna District extended from 
the Delaware River on the east to Ithaca and 
Wellsborough on the west, and from Norwich and 
Bainbridge on the north to Plymouth on the south. 
The area included within these bounds was nearly 
identical with that of the present Wyoming Confer- 
ence, and at least equal to it. There were eleven 
charges, called Wyoming, Canaan, Bainbridge, 
Broome, Caroline, Owego, Spencer, Tioga, Wyalu- 
sing, Ithaca, and Bridgewater. The district had nine- 
teen preachers and three thousand six hundred and 
ninety-six members and probationers. Our people 
owned six small churches, one still unfinished, and 
had some privileges in two others. Besides these, 
there were on the district about two hundred regular 
preaching-places, the great majority of them being 
private houses, and not a few of them in neighbor- 
hoods where we had not a single member of the 
Church. 

I entered upon this new charge with fear and 
trembling, but tried to rely on God. I was only 
twenty-seven years of age, and had been only eight 
years in the ministry, while there were on the dis- 
trict men far in advance of me in age and experience. 



Susquehanna District. 137 

Among them was Loring Grant, who had been as a 
father to me, but who seemed to hail my appointment 
with great satisfaction. I usually traveled in prim- 
itive style, on horseback, and was necessarily away 
from home much of the time — often for five or six 
weeks continuously, not even hearing from my family. 
My quarterly meetings were seasons of interest, and 
I labored in the utmost harmony with the preachers. ^ 
Good was done at various points, and we had two 
successful camp-meetings during the latter part of 
the Conference year. The first of these was held in 
June on Caroline Circuit, the ground being prepared 
on the most approved plan by Loring Grant. George 
W. Densmore and Chester V. Adgate preached pow- 
erful sermons, the memory and the fruits of which 
remain to this day. Prejudice gave way, and souls 
were saved. 

The second camp-meeting was at Nicholls, on Wy- 
alusing Circuit, and began August 11. On Sabbath 
we had a mighty breaking down. At eight o'clock 
in the morning Gaylord Judd preached with wonder- 
ful unction. In the afternoon and evening the 
preaching of the word was crowned with striking 
displays of Divine power. Twenty souls professed 
conversion that day, among them several children of 
our preachers. Such weeping and shouting I have 
seldom heard or witnessed. I had come to the place 
unwell ; and somewhat dispirited ; but amid these 
victories my courage and faith revived. The whole 
number converted was about sixty. 

This, however, was a year of trial both to me and 
my wife. There were some cases of discipline that 



138 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

gave- me anxiety and trouble. A local preacher was 
charged with embezzling money collected for church 
building purposes, and was expelled, after a series of 
trials. In Ithaca a miserable quarrel about church 
music — the question of choir or no choir — kept the 
whole Society in a ferment for months, and threatened 
to wreck every thing. As generally happens in such 
cases, the belligerents, as the war progressed, soon 
ceased to care a copper about the matter originally 
in dispute, and were only anxious each to defeat the 
other side. I visited the place for the express pur- 
pose of effecting a reconciliation, but failed to accom- 
plish any good. 

On returning from a long absence on distant parts 
of the district I found our child in an almost dying 
state. He had received an accidental injury on 
the back of his. neck, which totally paralyzed his 
right side and limbs. There was great danger of a 
fatal termination of the case, and little hope of com- 
plete recovery. Unwearied care, and the constant 
application of remedies for months, so far restored 
him that he was able to move about in a feeble, halt- 
ing way. It was no small burden to my spirit to 
be absent from home for a month at a time while he 
was in this critical condition, and his mother was left- 
alone to bear the weight of care and anxiety. 

My journeys were not only long, but sometimes 
perilous. I was once coming home from Ithaca, the 
weather was intensely cold, and the ground frozen 
I urged on my weary hoirse as night approached, and 
he fell down with me, crushing my leg under him. 
I thought it was broken. Dragging myself to the 



Susquehanna District. 139 

fence, I succeeded in getting upon it, and so mounted 
my horse agaia, and rode forward. Happily for me, 
the injury, though painful, did not permanently dis- 
able me. 

On the 17th of August, 1825, the Genesee Confer- 
ence met in Asbury Chapel, Lansing, Cayuga Coun- 
ty, N. Y., Bishop Hedding presiding. Few incidents 
of the session are now of public interest. There was 
an unpleasant affair between a presiding elder and 
one of his preachers, resulting in mutual charges ; 
but Dr. Emory, the Book Agent, who was present, 
proposed terms of peace, which were accepted. The 
difficulty had been of sufficient magnitude to disturb 
the whole Conference, and, indeed, good feeling was 
never restored between the two brethren. Another 
incident shows how the event of a moment some- 
times changes the tenor of perhaps a whole life. 
Joseph Castle, who had come to my district from the 
Canada Conference, desired greatly to remain, and I 
wanted him for a certain charge. Bishop Hedding 
stated that Bishop George said that he must have 
Mr. Castle for the work in Canada, and so it was 
fixed. The appointments were read off in the even- 
ing, and we did not leave Lansing till the next day. 
At the breakfast-table the next morning Bishop Hed- 
ding, turning to Dr. Emory, said, 

" There is one case that has worried my mind, and 
I would like to have your opinion. Brother Castle 
wishes to remain in the States, but they want him in 
Canada, and I have so appointed." 

Dr. Emory, without a moment's hesitation, replied 
that he would let him remain. The Bishop turned to 



HO Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

me and inquired if I still had a place for him. I re- 
plied that no one had been set down far Bethany, the 
place for which I needed him. 

" Well," said the Bishop, " let him go to Bethany." 

The conversation had scarcely reached this point 
when Mr. Castle, all equipped for his journey north, 
rode up to the door to bid me farewell. I went out 
to the gate, and pointing down the road by which he 
had come to the house, said, 

" Joseph, turn about ; the Bishop has appointed 
you at Bethany." 

Without uttering a word, he turned his horse, and 
was off in a moment. 

I returned to my district cheerfully, and with good 
hope of a successful year. I was soon drawn into a 
new field of action. The Rev. C. R. Marsh, a young 
Universalist preacher from New England, had been 
settled at Hopbottom in charge of a congregation of 
that faith. Zealous and confident, he began the pub- 
lication of a magazine entitled the "Candid Exam- 
iner," and opened his battery upon the " limitarians," 
generously offering them space in his columns to 
defend themselves if they could. These banters 
were annoying to our people, and were commented 
on by others, and I began occasionally to hear the 
inquiry, " Why does not Mr. Peck meet Mr. Marsh 
in his magazine, if he thinks that he can sustain his 
doctrine ? " I resolved, at length, to accept the chal- 
lenge, and addressed to the editor a jiote to that ef- 
fect, signing it Observer. He gave me a cordial 
reception, and made profuse promises of fair play. 
I wrote five papers, embracing the main points of 



Susquehanna District. 141 

the controversy. These were published in succes- 
sive numbers of the magazine, the editor replying to 
each in the same number. He evidently assumed 
that I was a Calvinist, and constructed his replies 
accordingly. When I began my rejoinder he dis- 
covered that he had aimed his guns in the wrong 
direction, and that his ammunition had been wasted. 
He found that his arguments were not valid against 
a Methodist. He began to delay my articles, and 
finally declined to publish any more of them. I 
wrote him a letter on the subject, and my friends, in 
vain, called on him, and at last he discontinued his 
magazine altogether. My letters were published in 
a large pamphlet at Wilkesbarre, in 1827, and, except 
two or three brief articles in the " Methodist Maga- 
zine," constituted my first appearance in print. 

This little controversy turned my studies into a 
new channel. I read every thing I could obtain on 
either side of the question, and was satisfied that I 
had mastered the principal points of the subject, but 
the debate with Mr. Marsh showed me that it was 
important for me to be able to read Greek. I ac- 
cordingly procured a copy of Parkhurst's Greek 
Grammar and Lexicon, and began the study, which I 
prosecuted with some success. 

While the Universalist debate was pending, an- 
other assailant, whose name was also Marsh, came 
out for battle. He appeared as the champion of the 
doctrine of the Divine Unity, and felt called to attack 
Trinitarians every-where. His assaults attracted 
considerable attention in Kingston, and the region 
round about, and some of the less intelligent of our ., 



142 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

people began to be disturbed. Happening to meet 
him one day we had some conversation, in which he 
told me frankly that he intended to make war upon the 
errors of the Methodists until he rooted them out. 
I remarked that I would like to hear him speak. 
This seemed to please him, and he immediately pub- 
lished an appointment in the old academy at Kings- 
ton, and set afloat the idea that we were to have a 
debate. The evening came, and a crowd, and the 
sermon, which was two hours long. At the con- 
clusion Mr. Marsh turned to me and invited me to 
reply. I declined to do it at that late hour, but 
named a day, to which he agreed. 

From certain signs I inferred that my assailant 
was a man of quotations only. I suspected that the 
pond by which he ran his controversial mill was 
small and not very deep. Examining Millard's little 
book on the Unitarian controversy, I found all Mr. 
Marsh's arguments, and nearly all his language. I 
prepared my answer accordingly, and when the time 
came, put Millard's work in my pocket, and carried 
to the place a half dozen other books, which I placed 
upon the desk. My opponent was invited to take a 
seat with me, and did so, but seemed to look at my 
books with apprehension. 

After prayer, and a brief introduction, I remarked 
that I had taken no notes of the discourse to which 
I was about to reply, but that I had it all in a little 
book. As I drew it from my pocket, and named the 
author, Mr. Marsh, who was sitting at the desk facing 
the audience, gave evident tokens of dismay and 
consternation. The wound was mortal. I spoke 



Susquehanna District. 143 

an hour and a half, and then gave the gentleman an 
opportunity to reply. He tried to do so ; but it was 
clear that he knew nothing of the question beyond 
his single author, and when Millard was answered, 
Marsh was confounded. The audience began to 
laugh, and we retired. In a few days he left the 
region, and I saw him no more. 

We had two camp-meetings on the district during 
the year. The first was on Canaan Circuit. It 
commenced on the seventh of September, and re- 
sulted in the conversion of forty souls. The second 
was on the Wyoming Circuit, beginning on the fif- 
teenth of September. I have attended many camp- 
meetings in various parts of the country during the 
past sixty years, but this was the most powerful I 
ever saw. The first prayer-meeting on the ground 
was crowned with a conversion. Reuben Holgate 
came forward and knelt down, with a fixed determi- 
nation, he said, never to leave the place till he found 
the pardon of his sins. He had been but a few 
minutes thus engaged, when a sudden shower scat- 
tered the people to their tents. I had not observed 
Mr. Holgate,' and of course left with the rest and 
sat down Jn a tent. A lady saw him and came and 
told me. I hurried back and found him there, pray- 
ing, one devoted female member of the Church stand- 
ing by his side. I knelt down and offered a prayer, 
perhaps a long one ; and when I rose up I found the 
congregation all there again, in the rain, but rejoic- 
ing in the Lord. A number of others came forward, 
among them young people of the most reputable 
families of the valley. Mr. Holgate did not leave the 



144 Life and Times of G, Peck, D.D. 

spot till he found peace, nor did he have to stay long. 
Thus the meeting began with notes of victory. 

The power of God was so evident that sinners 
were disarmed, and we had little to do but receive 
those who pressed forward, and labor with them. 
They came in crowds at every invitation. Darius 
Williams and Benjamin Bidlack were triumphant. , 
The musical, moving strains of Mr. Williams were 
heard from morning till night, and almost from night 
till morning. Father Bidlack was a veteran of 
eighty years, but his tall form was as erect as ever. 
He had been a soldier in his youth, having enlisted 
in the army of the Revolution, and served from the 
very beginning of the war to the surrender of Corn- 
wallis. Having been converted, he joined the Meth- 
odists, was called into the itinerancy, and did faithful 
and efficient service as a minister of Christ. He was 
now retired from active service, and age was laying 
its burdens upon him ; but the stirring scenes and 
events of this meeting roused him as if it were a battle. 
In one of our stormiest prayer-meetings, when scores 
were crying for mercy, and scores of others were 
praying importunately for them, and the noise was 
like the roar of the ocean surf, a sort of inspiration 
came upon the old soldier, and he marched around 
the encampment, his eyes uplifted, the tears flowing 
down his face, and his mighty voice, as he shouted and 
praised the Lord, rising above the tumult, echoing 
from the rocky hill-sides about us, and seeming to 
die away on the summits of the mountains. 

The meeting had been appointed to last for one 
week, but continued ten days, and could hardly be 



Susquehanna District. 145 

dismissed then in. any regular way. On the last day,' 
as the custom was, we invited those who had found 
peace to unite with the Church on probation. Some 
one struck up the chorus, at that time very popular 
among us : — 

" Clear the way ; let me go ; 
I'm going to join the army." 

They came forward from all parts of the ground, 
old and young, men, women, and children, till two 
hundred stood in a body, to take upon them the 
solemn vow. A large congregation witnessed the 
wondrous scene. God's peofile shouted with holy 
rapture. Many of the spectators, yet unconverted, 
wept and were deeply moved. An invitation was 
once more given them to seek the Lord, and thirty or 
forty came forward for prayer and counsel. Among 
these, William Abbott, who came to the ground that 
morning for the first time to take home his father's 
family, was suddenly convinced of sin, yielded to the 
Divine call, and found pardon. He lived a faithful 
Christian life for many years, and died trusting in 
the Saviour whom he that day found. He was the 
uncle of Rev. William P. Abbott. 

Other duties at last compelled the preachers to 
leave the ground, but the people went on with the 
work all day. As we reluctantly rode off, the sound 
of prayer and holy song followed us a long way down 
the mountain pass. The work went on for months 
at the various appointments on the circuit. John 
Copeland, now a superannuated member of the West- 
ern New York Conference, then an eloquent and 
popular young preacher, was in charge of Wyoming 
10 



146 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Circuit, and was efficient and successful during the^ 
whole year. The sacred influence extended far and 
wide, and the fruits of this revival were long after- 
wards found, not only in the neighboring Churches, 
but in distant parts of the land. 

Soon after this camp-meeting I attended a quar- 
terly meeting in Oxford, Chenango County, . New 
York, which was blessed to the salvation of souls. 
Our people at that time worshiped in an old build- 
ing erected for a store, on the bank of the river. The 
Presbyterians kindly lent us their church for the 
Saturday and Sunday of the quarterly meeting. Ob- 
serving signs of awakening among the people, I con- 
cluded to remain during the week, and preach every 
evening in our own room by the river, the circuit 
preacher being compelled to leave in order to keep 
up his regular appointments. God's Spirit was poured 
out and sinners were converted. Among the rest 
Asahel J. Hyde, a man of intelligence and influence, 
who had been considered skeptical, was so deeply 
convicted one evening that his emotions could not be 
concealed. " Hyde, what is the matter .■■ " asked one 
of his careless associates. He answered solemnly, 
"I feel the necessity of prayer." "Well, then," re- 
joined the other, " go forward, and Mr. Peck will 
pray for you." 

He rose immediately, and coming to the bench 
where others were kneeling, fell upon his knees and 
cried out in agony of soul, " God be merciful to me, 
a sinner." He soon found peace, and rising up, ad- 
dressed the congregation with propriety and effect, 
exhorting his friends, with tears, to seek the Lord. 



Susquehanna District . 147 

When he returned home his wife was amazed, and 
at first thought that he was losing his reason. When 
I called on him the next morning I found him calm 
and happy. Said he, " This morning I commenced 
family prayer. I began with a prayer-book, but it did 
not satisfy me, so I shut it up and prayed as the 
Spirit gave me utterance." I conversed with his wife 
on the subject of personal religion, and she, too, sought 
the Saviour, and united with the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. Both of them remain faithful to the vows 
then assumed. They not only led their children into 
the Church, but a large circle of relations followed 
their example. Emmeaus Locke, of this village, whom 
I received into the Church in 1817, while I was on 
Broome Circuit, married my wife's sister Elizabeth, 
and was an influential member of the little Society at 
the time of the revival. 

My second winter on Susquehanna District was a 
hard one for me. Constant alternations of severe 
cold with comparatively mild weather, made the 
roads bad and travel uncertain. I took my wife with 
me in a carriage on one of my northern trips. We went 
as far as Oxford, and when we had reached Owego, 
on our return, a deep snow fell and rendered it impos- 
sible to proceed on wheels. I went to work, and 
with some little help constructed a sled, or "jumper," 
as it was called, and pushed on to Nicholl's, my next 
appointment, and thence, crossing the Wyalusing, 
through the Auburn woods toward home. The snow 
began to thaw, the runners of our sled soon wore 
out, and I bought an old sled and continued on our 
journey. By the time we reached Springville, thirty 



148 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

miles from home, the snow was gone, so I borrowed a 
wagon, and happily reached Kingston without being 
compelled to make any further change of conveyance. 

I received during the two years of my presiding 
eldership less than one hundred and fifty dollars a 
year, on which sum I supported my famil}' and paid 
my traveling expenses. How it was done I can 
hardly tell. My family now numbered four, our 
second child, Luther Wesley, having been born in 
the month of June, 1825. 

On the 7th of June, 1826, the Conference met at 
Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, Bishop Hedding 
presiding. 

In those days it was not the custom to consult 
either the preachers or the people in regard to their 
appointments, and I had, thus far in my itinerancy, 
never known where my field of labor was to be till 
the bishop announced it. At this session, however, 
the health of my family constrained me to ask to be 
relieved from the presiding eldership, and I was 
appointed to Wyoming Circuit, with Philo Barberry 
as junior preacher. It was seven years since I trav- 
eled this circuit ; but my old friends greeted me as 
warmly as ever, and I felt that I was at home among 
them. 

In August I attended a successful camp-meeting 
in Danby, near Ithaca, New York. An unusually 
large number of able preachers were present. On 
the Sabbath George Gary preached a sermon which 
seemed to break down every thing before it. Robert 
Burch excelled himself Abner Chase, Benjamin 
Sabin, Horace Agard, and Denison Smith, preached 



Susquehanna District. 149 

strong sermons. John Griffing almost literally 
"prayed without ceasing." The last night, as was 
often the case, the prayer-meeting continued till 
morning, and although I went into a tent at eleven 
o'clock and tried to sleep, I heard his voice inces- 
santly from that hour till daylight. About sixty souls 
were converted. 

We also had a good meeting in the autumn on the 
old ground on Wyoming Circuit. Rude fellows of 
the baser sort gave us a great deal of trouble, and 
sundry of them were subsequently arraigned before a 
magistrate and fined for their misdeeds. A degree 
of annoyance, indeed, was quite common on such 
occasions. We seldom held a camp-meeting any- 
where without finding out, sooner or later, that some 
mean character in the neighborhood was trying to 
make a little money by secretly selling alcoholic 
drinks. At this meeting we not only had to look 
after intoxicated men, but one evildoer was malicious 
enough to set fire to our brush barricade, which had 
been made the previous year, and was very inflam- 
mable. Several rods of it were burned in spite of 
our eiforts to extinguish it. 

I removed my family to a small parsonage in 
Wilkesbarre, and traveled the circuit during the first 
quarter of the year. The people of the town then 
applied to the presiding elder for a division of the 
circuit. Wilkesbarre was accordingly made a station, 
with three outside preaching-places — Hanover, the 
Plains, and Newport, and I was appointed pastor. 
The arrangement required three sermons every 
Sabbath. In Wilkesbarre we had no church, but 



150 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

met in a spacious hall in the second story of the 
court-house, the lease of which we secured for ten 
years. Methodism was still in its infancy in the 
place. There had been preaching in the town for 
thirty years ; but the Society was small, the official 
brethren, with one exception, were young men, and 
their means were scanty. The amount paid as sala- 
ry was small ; but, reinforced by home supplies from 
Forty Fort, we made it answer our purposes. 

On the 22d of February, 1827, Joseph Castle was 
married to Martha Ann Myers, my wife's sister. I 
had no idea of this when I urged Bishop Hedding not 
to send him to Canada two years before. On the loth 
of April our only daughter, Mary Helen, was born. 

The approaching session of the Conference was to 
be held in Wilkesbarre, and in due season we set 
about preparing for it. The wood work within the 
parsonage had never been painted. One of the 
brethren mixed the paint, and I wielded the brush, 
doing the whole myself. I also tried my hand at 
building a picket -fence in front of the house, and set- 
ting out a row of trees, and succeeded in both enter- 
prises. I found no difficulty in procuring quarters for 
the two hundred members of the Genesee Confer- 
ence — all the citizens of the place being ready to 
entertain them. 

On the 26th of June, 1827, the Conference met, 
Bishop George presiding. The several denomina- 
tions had been living in the utmost harmony. When 
the Conference began its session the Presbyterians 
oifered their church for the public services, and mem- 
bers of all the Churches in the place attended in large 



Wilkesbarre. 151 

numbers. By a vote of the Conference, the pre- 
vious year, three special discourses had been ar- 
ranged. John Dempster was to preach on Imputed 
Righteousness, Andrew Prindle on the Divinity of 
Christ, and EHas Bowen on Natural and Moral 
Ability. This programme was, at the best, rather 
perilous under the circumstances. But Mr. Bowen. 
had prepared his sermon without any knowledge of 
the peculiar situation of things in Wilkesbarre, and 
performed, in the merciless style of the controversies 
of the day, the duty thus assigned him. Our preach- 
&rs, at that period of our history, were constantly 
assailed as teachers of false doctrine ; the pulpits of 
other denominations rung with the charge ; and 
often, at the close of a sermon, some pugnacious 
hearer started up and called the preacher to account 
for what he had uttered. The preachers were not 
slow to accept these challenges, and Calvinism 
especially was a subject upon which their hands 
were taught to war and their fingers to fight. But 
. as we were holding our Conference in a Presbyterian 
church, whose members were kindly entertaining 
scores of our preachers, it was natural that the dis- 
course should give offense, not only to the Presbyte- 
rians, but to the general public. 

The morning after its delivery I was asked if the 
discourse of Mr. Bowen met my approbation. I re- 
plied that no one but the preacher himself was re- 
sponsible for the objectionable things which he had 
uttered. The gentlemen conceded that I was under 
no obligation to condemn the preacher, and accepted 
my personal disclaimer ; but the affair made a bad 



1 52 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

impression, and was long remembered as one of the 
misfortunes of our history in the Wyoming Valley. 

This year we elected delegates to the General Con- 
ference, and I was again chosen. I was re-appointed 
to Wilkesbarre. In November I published my book 
on Universalism. I spent much time and labor upon 
.it ; but the printer was without experience in this 
line, and so was I, and between us the typographical 
part was not a brilliant success. As to the argument, 
I do not know that I could now improve it. Some 
of the grounds which I took were new, so far as I 
knew then or know now. Some of the new phases 
of that error were met in an original way, and some 
of my arguments have been adopted by subsequent 
writers without any intimation of the source whence 
they were obtained. The volume was received with 
some favor, and did some local good. Dr. Martin 
Ruter wrote me a commendatory letter, and Dr. Fisk 
adopted my historical argument in his publication on 
the same subject. The edition was small, and I lost 
money by it ; and it is possible that writing the book 
was a greater benefit to me than reading it has been 
to any one else.- 

On the 22d of April, 1828, my friend, H. Agard, 
and I set out for Pittsburgh, the seat of the General 
Conference, our conveyance consisting of my horse 
and his carriage. There had been a fall of snow, and 
the roads were almost impassable. Toiling on for eight 
days we at last reached the place, and found excel- 
lent quarters in the hospitable home of Mr. James 
Borbidge. 

At this General Conference the Radical controversy 



Wilkesbarre. 153 

again came before us. The Baltimore Conference had 
tried and expelled several of the agitators ; they had ap- 
pealed to the General Conference ; and in the process 
of trying these appeals, the various questions which 
they had long been arguing in the " Mutual Rights " 
were discussed, and all the matters in controversy 
were debated. In these trials Stephen George Roszel 
and Asa Shinn were pitted against each other ; Mr. 
Shinn for the appellants, and Mr. Roszel for the 
Conference. The contest was ably conducted on 
both sides, but in the midst of it Mr. Shinn's phys- 
ical powers suddenly failed, and he was compelled to 
retire from the field. The whole question of reform 
was disposed of in a report which was read by Dr. 
Emory, but which, as it was subsequently ascer- 
tained, was written by Dr. Bond, of Baltimore. The 
principal questions agitated had been in regard to the 
election of presiding elders by the Annual Confer- 
ences and lay delegation ; but from this General Con- 
ference the agitation ceased, and peace was restored. 
The application of the Canada Conference to be 
made an independent Church occasioned a warm dis- 
cussion, in which the ablest members of the General 
Conference took part. A report was finally adopted 
allowing the Canada brethren to organize on an inde- 
pendent basis, and authorizing our bishops to ordain 
a bishop for them, whenever one should be elected. 
The question of dividing the property of the Church 
and giving, the Canada brethren their proportion of 
the Book Concern and of the general funds came up 
four years afterward, and was referred to the Annual 
Conferences, where the proposition so to divide failed 



154 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

to receive the necessary majority. The Southern 
Conferences voted mostly in the negative. Thus ter- 
minated an agitation which for years had disturbed 
the Methodist Church in, Canada. 

A somewhat unpleasant matter came before the 
General Conference in connection with Bishop Soule. 
Joshua Randall had been arraigned by the New En- 
gland Conference for preaching false doctrine, and 
had been expelled. The doctrinal error for which he 
was tried consisted in his affirming that the moral 
law is abrogated by the Gospel. He appealed to the 
General Conference ; the appeal had been tried, and 
the action of the New England Conference was af- 
firmed. Bishop Soule had published a sermon on 
"The Law," in which, as some of the eastern dele- 
gates alleged, he had taught the same heresy. Law- 
rence M'Combs and Timothy Merritt introduced a 
resolution to take up the Bishop's sermon, and, after 
a heated debate, succeeded in getting it referred to 
the Committee on the Episcopacy. The committee 
examined the discourse, and reported that it did not 
contain the errors which had been charged. In the 
debates which took place in the Committee, and also 
in the General Conference, Dr. Wilbur Fisk managed 
the argument, and made some strong points against 
the Bishop, but failed to convict him. Those who 
had introduced the question in regard to Mr. Soule's 
orthodoxy were not dissatisfied with the result, inas- 
much as the action of the General Con/erence was 
of such a nature as to condemn the doctrine, while 
it exonerated the' Bishop from the charge of teach- 
ing it. 



Wilkcsbarre. 1 5 S 

A resolution allowing the Genesee Conference to 
divide itself was warmly opposed by some of the 
Southern and Western members, on the ground that 
it would tend to destroy the itinerancy and establish 
Congregationalism among us. The idea of the oppo- 
nents seemed to be, that the integrity and efficiency 
of Methodism depended upon large circuits, large 
districts, and large conferences ; and that it was in 
the highest degree unwise for us, as they expressed 
it, to " cut up the work into little patches." We suc- 
ceeded, however, in carrying the measure. 

On Friday, May 23, Bishop M'Kendree delivered 
before the_ Conference an address of a truly primi- 
tive and apostolic character. It made a fine impres- 
sion. The next day Bishop Soule made some expla- 
nations in regard to his sermon and its supposed 
heresies ; and then the doxology was sung, prayer 
was offered by Nelson Reed, and the Conference 
adjourned. The Southern members took the steam- 
boat and departed. We remained till Monday, in 
honor of the Sabbath, and then were detained an- 
other day by a great rain. Leaving Pittsburgh 
Tuesday morning, the 27th, we had a pleasant jour- 
ney, and reached home on Wednesday, June 4. 

On the 9th of July Mrs. Martha Ann Castle died 
at her father's house in Forty Fort, after an illness of 
only three days. She departed in holy triumph. 
Death came at an unexpected hour, while her hus- 
band was absent on his circuit, so far away that the 
utmost exertion on his part did not bring him to her 
bedside in time to receive her last farewell. She was 
a woman of deep piety, and unusual intelligence and 



IS6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

force of character. An infant son survived her only 
a few weeks. 

The Genesee Conference began its session July 24, 
1828, at Ithaca, N. Y. The Church in this place was 
in a prosperous condition, and there had been a large 
accession of members during the previous two years. 
Some matters transpired during the session which 
were of no great importance, and yet, as they belong 
to my personal history, and at the same time show 
that, in regard to the itinerancy, "former times" were 
not as much " better than these " as some imagine, I 
name them. Early in the session of the Conference 
an active and somewhat fussy official member of the 
Church at Ithaca informed me that it was the general 
wish of the brethren there that I should be their next 
pastor, and he hoped that I would not object. Two 
or three days after this a member of another Confer- 
ence visited us, preached a sermon, and made a mis- 
sionary speech. My friend was_greatly pleased with 
the eloquent stranger, and soon there were rumors 
that Ithaca was to have a transfer, the clerical brother 
in question agreeing to the arrangement. To make 
every thing agreeable, some one brought forward a 
resolution requesting the Bishop to transfer him to 
our Conference. This resolution passed, and I con- 
sidered the matter settled ; but when things came to 
the test it was discovered that the visiting brother, 
while he highly appreciated the compliment paid him 
by our action, had no intention of coming to the 
Genesee Conference, and the project failed. When 
this result was reached the officious official of Ithaca 
came to me once more to urge me to consent to 



Ithaca. 157 

come to his Church. Not knowing exactly how mat- 
ters stood, I made him no definite reply. Soon a 
committee of the leading brethren waited upon me 
to assure me that the ofificial board had taken no 
action in regard to a transfer ; that the best men of 
the Society deemed it altogether visionary and ill- 
advised ; and that they did not wish to be held re- 
sponsible for the action of the self-appointed com- 
mittee of one. I believed these to be the facts, and 
therefore replied that I should leave my case in the 
hands of the Bishop, neither asking nor declining any 
field to which he might see cause to assign me : and 
in accordance with their request I was appointed. 

The health of my family was such that I could not 
remove immediately to Ithaca. Wilkesbarre had been 
returned to the Wyoming Circuit, and Joseph Castle 
and Silas Comfort were the preachers. I preached 
at Ithaca the Sunday after the close of the Confer- 
ence, and then, with the consent of the presiding 
elder, arranged with Mr. Castle to change places 
with him until we were able to move. This arrange- 
ment continued till the middle of October, when we 
made the transit. This time, moving was an opera- 
tion of somewhat portentous dimensions. The dis- 
tance was one hundred and ten miles, and the road 
was over the mountains much of the way. Our 
goods were loaded upon two wagons, and sent on in 
advance, our oldest child, George, accompanying 
them, in the care of the men in charge of that part 
of the expedition. A strong carriage conveyed the 
rest of the family, my wife and the nurse sitting on 
the back seat, each holding a child, while a third was 



IS8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

committed to me. These, with needful baggage, 
made a heavy load, which demanded careful horse- 
manship and slow marches. While we were descend- 
ing a very steep hill near Tunkhannock the front 
axle of the carriage broke like a pipe-stem, the car- 
riage turned completely over, and the powerful horse, 
tearing loose from the wreck, rushed away at the too 
of his speed. Strange to tell, no one was injured. 
As we crept from under the ruins I looked down the 
road, and saw my horse coming back at the same 
furious pace, and charging directly upon us. This 
peril seemed as great as the other, but we were 
again saved from harm, the horse stopping suddenly 
just as he came within four or five steps of the group, 
and standing still long enough to be caught. 

We returned to Tunkhannock, and I addressed 
myself to the question of repairs. A stage passing 
through the village, I placed my family in it and 
sent them to Montrose, and then followed with my 
horse, arriving late at night. The next day I found 
the poor beast so lame from injuries received at the 
time of the accident that he could scarcely stand. 
Then one of the children was taken sick, and the 
sick child, the lame horse, and the broken carriage 
detained us at Montrose nine or ten days. We were 
so fortunate, however, as to find in the place an old 
and intimate friend, Mrs. Daniel Baldwin, who re- 
ceived us into her house, and, with her excellent 
husband, did all that could be done to render us com- 
fortable. I preached twice during my stay — once 
on the Sabbath, in the Presbyterian Church, and the 
other at the funeral of a grandchild of Putnam Cat- 



Ithaca. 159 

]in, the father of George Catlin, the famous painter 
of Indian portraits. At last, after having 'been 
twelve days on the journey, we reached Ithaca, 
and found a most cordial welcome, and a new par- 
sonage, comfortably furnished, awaiting us. I com- 
menced my work, preaching three times every Sab- 
bath to the same congregation of respectable and 
highly intelligent people. The house was always 
well filled. The intellectual character of my people, 
the ability of my immediate predecessors, the state 
of the Church at the time of my appointment, — every 
thing being then at flood tide, — and the three sermons 
weekly, tried my powers ; but, by diligence in study 
and Divine help, the year passed pleasantly, and 
not without fruit. The brother whose intermittent 
friendship annoyed me during the session of the 
Conference afterward treated me with all kindness 
and respect. 

This year I undertook a thorough review of two 
branches of study : Ecclesiastical History and Meta- 
physics. I had previously read Mosheim. Consid- 
ered as the history of the Church as an organization, 
its outward forms and manifestations, and in its cor- 
ruptions, it is a learned and invaluable work. I now 
studied Milner. In him I found elaborately traced 
the history of the evangelical portion of the Church, 
particularly that subdivision of it which took the 
Augustinian type. In my metaphysical investiga- 
tions I commenced with Locke, and went through 
several of the best Scotch authors. I had previously 
read Dr. Reid's works. I now studied Dugald Stew- 
art and Payne. Notwithstanding the war made upon 



i6o Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

John Locke, I was strongly inclined to the judgment 
of Dr. Beasley, that the reviewers of the great En- 
glish philosopher had drawn from his premises un- 
warrantable conclusions, and attributed to him opin- 
ions which he did not hold, and which his theory in 
regard to the elements of knowledge would hardly 
authorize. I had some taste for these investigations, 
arid, I think, derived some profit from them ; but I 
hardly know, on the whole, whether the time which 
I spent thus might not have been employed to better 
advantage. 

During the winter and spring we were visited with 
domestic trials. Our children were all sick, the in- 
fant died, and our little daughter was at one time, as 
we thought, very near death. We were kept in a 
state of anxiety day and night, for months. Our 
people were very kind, and yet that long period of 
weary watching and constant apprehension was a 
burden upon soul and body. Still, I came to love the 
people and the place. I began to cherish the idea that 
if I should live to be old I would return, and there 
spend the evening of my days. With this thought 
in my mind I purchased two lots of land, one on the 
corner opposite the Methodist Episcopal Church, and 
the other on the hill. But we little know, -at thirty 
years of age, at what point we may be tethered at 
threescore and ten. Those pleasant visions of a 
home in Ithaca have long since faded. The mem- 
ory of the kind friends who gathered about us is still 
fresh, but the only spot of ground there to which our 
hearts are drawn is the little mound thgt covers the 
dust of our infant son. 



Ithaca. i6i 

The Genesee Conference, in accordance with the 
action of the previous General Conference, had been 
divided, one part retaining the old name, and the 
other being called the Oneida Conference. Ithaca 
was within the bounds of the latter. The Oneida 
Conference held its first session at Cazenovia, June 
TO, 1829, Bishop Roberts presiding. The room in 
which we-assembled was the seminary chapel, once 
the county court-house, in which I preached in 18 17. 
The session was harmonious. The Conference was 
visited by a large deputation of chiefs and other great 
men of the Oneida tribe of Indians. Among them 
was William Doxtater, a most fluent and beautiful 
speaker in his own language, who had been the in- 
strument of a great work of God in his tribe. I was 
re-appointed to Ithaca, in accordance with the ex- 
pectations of pastor and people. 

This year, 1829, at the invitation of Herman Camp, 
I delivered, at Trumansburgh, my first Fourth of July 
oration, selecting for my special theme the Temper- 
ance Reform. Some years afterward I heard a gen- 
tleman in New York; who was supposed to be well 
informed in such matters, state, as an historical fact, 
that the first temperance celebration of the national 
anniversary occurred in that city about the year 1832. 
If the date of the New York celebration is correctly 
given, that at Trumansburgh occurred three years 
before it, and was probably the first instance of the 
kind. I also spoke on the same theme the next year 
at the celebration held at Speedsville. 

In the Church matters went tolerably well this 
year, and yet our numbers declined. The business 
11 



i62 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

interests of the place were depressed, and a consid- 
erable number of our members removed. The lull 
which followed the great religious movement of three 
years previous told seriously upon some whose piety 
grew more out of the excitement of the hour than 
from thorough conviction, and " because they had no 
root, they withered away." I was also somewhat 
annoyed by certain irrepressible female members of 
the Church, who were ready to assume the control • 
of every body and every thing, including the pastor, 
his family, and all of his domestic arrangements. 
These good sisters were gifted in prayer, and ear- 
nest in spirit, and rendered much aid in social meet- 
ings ; but they had been consulted so often, and 
deferred to so much, that they were offended if they 
were not consulted and their advice taken in every 
case. This was the state of things which I found 
when I came to the charge, and I was compelled to 
inaugurate a new line of policy. I treated the ladies 
with all courtesy, but did my work in my own way, 
and the feminine dictatorship came to an end. I did 
my best to render its last hours peaceful, but did not 
-entirely succeed. There was some irritation, and the 
course of the pastor was duly criticised, and the mo- 
tives, real and imaginary, which led him to adopt it 
were duly canvassed by the aggrieved party. It was 
probably in view of these things that the brethren of 
the official boards, at the close of my term of service, 
were led to express their respect for me, and their 
approval of my administration, by a complimentary 
resolution, which was communicated to me as I was 
leaving for Conference. 



Utica. 163 



CHAPTER VII. 

1830, UTICA 183I, CAZENOVIA 1832, CAZENOVIA AND 

AUBURN 1833-4, AUBURN. 

THE Oneida Conference met at Utica, July 15, 
1830, Bishop Hedding presiding. We had, 
during the session, two spirited debates over matters 
of importance. The first occurred in connection 
with a movement in favor of a more thorough ex- 
amination of the candidates for admission into full 
connection. A course of study had been arranged, 
and every year committees of examination were 
appointed, and went through the forms of their 
duty ; but it seemed impossible to secure the needful 
attention to study on the part of many of the young 
men ; and when the question of their reception came 
up, the Conference showed a disposition to be satis- 
fied with very slender literary qualifications. The 
presiding elders were so in need of men that they 
generally had excellent reasons to urge in favor of 
every candidate, however ignorant of the books named 
in the course of study. I had been for several years 
on the committee of examination, and often felt that 
our action did not accomplish much, the Conference 
attaching little importance to our reports. This 
year the committee requested me to address the 
Conference, in connection with our report,- and urge 
the necessity of a higher grade of qualification. I 



164 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

did so to the best of my ability. My friend John 
Dempster strongly seconded the movement, and 
from that time there was a marked change in our 
modes of action. As might have been anticipated, 
however, the increased tendency to be stringent in 
our demands upon candidates led to innumerable 
skirmishes between the committee and the presiding 
elders over special cases. 

The other matter of interest was a warm discus- 
sion in regard to the measures of the temperance 
reform. A resolution was offered in favor of tem- 
perance societies. A strong party in the Conference 
held the position then maintained by Dr. Bangs, the 
editor of our Church paper at New York, that the 
Methodist Episcopal Church is, in itself, a temper- 
ance society, and that there was no need of our unit- 
ing with any other for the promotion of the cause. 
Others, of whom I was one, held the position of Dr. 
Fisk, that Methodists, both ministers and people, 
ought to encourage and unite with special organiza- 
tions for the prosecution of the reform. In debating 
this resolution the Conference became strangely ex- 
cited, and finally fell into a state of wild confusion. 
A dozen members were upon the floor at the same 
moment, and a dozen voices were shouting " Mr. 
President," in continuous roar. I was standing up 
with the others, and probably making my full share 
of the noise. In the midst of the confusion the old 
bishop brought his great foot to the floor with em- 
phasis, and thundered, " Silence ! Now, brethren, 
stop ; I will have no more of this ! " In an- instant 
every man was in his seat, and all was still. I do 



Utica. 165 

not know how the others felt. I was mortified, and 
never allowed myself to be caught in any similar 
situation afterward. The motion was laid upon the 
table, and thus, for the time, was lost ; but not long 
after both the Oneida Conference and the "Advo- 
cate " changed their position. 

At this Conference I was appointed pastor of the 
Church at Utica. I had left this station only six 
years before ; but since that time a new church had 
been erected on Bleecker-street, and considerable 
changes had taken place in the Society, though I 
was still acquainted with nearly all the leading mem- 
bers. We moved with all convenient dispatch to our 
new charge. I found that the stewards had rented 
a small house situated in a marsh, in the western part 
of the town, where the streets were not graded, nor 
the sidewalks laid, and where there were around us 
on every side open ditches full of water. The house 
was new, the walls still damp. Some of the people 
demurred at our moving into it, and, agreeing with 
them in opinion, I rented another near the church on 
my own responsibility. This did not please the leading 
steward, and he gave me no help, either in getting set- 
tled in my new house or in paying the rent afterward. 

I entered upon my work with unusual hopefulness. 
Our congregations were crowded. In the fall the 
Presbyterian brethren held a protracted meeting, and 
there was bonsiderable religious interest among them. 
Mr. Akin was still pastor of the First Church, and 
Dr. Lansing of the Second, in Bleecker-street ; and 
the latter minister especially was attracting great 
attention by his zeal and eloquence. My own con- 



1 66 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

gregation shared the general feeling, and the interest 
seemed to be growing every week. 

I was apprehensive. There had been in the 
Church at Utica from the beginning two parties, one 
in favor of shouting and other noisy demonstrations 
in public worship, and the other totally opposed to 
them. 

These parties were always more or less in conflict. 
I made strenuous efibrt to call the attention of the 
rival factions to the state of things within and around 
us, and the necessity of harmony in the Church. I 
visited the members, and strove to rouse them to 
Christian activity. I called the official board to- 
gether, and made it the special business of the meet- 
ing to inquire into the religious state of each brother 
present. I found their hearts tender. While we 
were praying and counseling together the cloud broke 
over us, and we were overwhelmed with the influences 
of the Spirit of God. O what confessions followed ! 
We humbled ourselves and wept like children. I 
never saw a more complete breaking down and sur- 
render than I saw and felt that evening. 

On the next Sabbath morning I entered the pulpit 
with hope and courage, assured that God had given 
me a message for the people. The house was filled to 
its utmost capacity. While I was preaching from the 
words, " See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh," 
God was in his own truth ; the people seemed to.trem- 
ble like the leaves of the forest before a mighty wind. 
In the evening I invited those who were awakened 
to come forward for prayers, and ten presented them- 
selves, some of whom found peace before they left 



Utica. 167 

the house. The work went on during the week. 
There was now a deep reHgious interest throughout 
the city, and popular revivalists were employed to 
assist the pastors of several Churches. I held a 
meeting every evening, and visited the people all 
day. A large number of promising converts were 
brought into the Church. I received eighty at one 
time. About one hundred had found peace, and 
there seemed no indication of any abatement of the 
interest. And then, in the very height of the battle 
and the victory, my strength suddenly failed, and I 
was compelled to retire at once from the field. ' Even 
so, Father ; for so it seemed good in thy sight." 

This illness was the greatest trial which I had ever 
encountered. At first I was wholly unreconciled to 
it, and thought that it must not be ; but finding my- 
self completely broken down, I submitted and was 
quiet. About the same time a young lady, resident 
in my family, was prostrated with an alarming hem- 
orrhage of the lungs, and for weeks my wife had two 
invalids for whom to care. The weary watching and 
anxiety broke down her strength, and she, too, became 
ill. Lying sick in the same room, we condoled with 
each other, and tried to gather comfort from Divine 
sources. When the brethren came to see me they 
looked sad and seemed desponding. The presiding 
elder, Brother George Gary, came to utter words of 
friendly cheer. He bade me give myself no anxiety 
in regard to the Church. Supposing that the brethren 
would be gratified to hear my experience in the hour 
of trial, I wrote a few lines, which Mr. Gary read in the 
love-feast. He released me from all responsibility in 



1 68 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

regard- to the charge, and directed the Rev. Isaac 
Stone to supply my place. 

The winter passed slowly away, and as the spring 
opened, I found myself able to attend church, and 
move about a little in good weather. My hopes began 
to revive in some degree, and 'one day I made to my 
friend, who was walking with me, a remark which 
looked in the direction of a possible resumption of 
the work. He looked at me with astonishment, and 
asked me if I expected ever to preach again, adding, 
" You never will ; your work in that line is done." 
" Well," thought I, " if such is the will of God, 
be it so." At the same time, I saw no reason to 
suppose that my friend pronounced this opinion 
under the influence of inspiration, and I therefore 
did not regard it as the conclusion of the whole 
matter. 

I resolved to try the effect of a little journey. Early 
in the month of May I gave up my house, stored 
most of my goods, and secured for my family two or 
three rooms in the house of a friend. On the ninth 
of the month snow fell so abundantly that if it had 
not partly thawed as it fell there would have been a 
depth of perhaps twelve inches. On Wednesday, the 
nth, I took passage on a canal-packet going east, 
then the most comfortable conveyance, and as expe- 
ditious as any. To my great joy I found my old 
friend, Loring Grant, on board, on his way to New 
England. In the company of Mr. Grant, and that of 
the other passengers, who were very friendly, I al- 
most forgot my weakness. Being invited to preach 
a sermon in the saloon of the packet I did so, and 



Casenovia. 169 

felt no particular harm from the exe'rtion, although I 
had been silent for three months previous. 

In due time I reached the city of New York, where 
I found a home with a relative, and placed myself 
under the medical care of Dr. D. M. Reese. I 
remained in the city only a week, during which I 
visited Newark, and had an interview with the Rev. 
Nathaniel Porter, who was in the last stage of pul- 
monary consumption, and passing peacefully home. 
Leaving New York I proceeded to Springfield, Mass., 
the seat of the New England Conference, where I 
attended some of the daily sessions, and made vari- 
ous little excursions to points of interest, meanwhile 
steadily gaining strength. Here I saw John N. 
Mafifitt for the first time. He was in some kind of 
trouble. The last time I saw him he was in similar 
circumstances. From Springfield I proceeded north 
and west, crossed the Green Mountains, visited Troy, 
and halted at Saratoga. After a stay of ten or 
twelve days at the springs, during which I drank 
quantities of the water, and preached once, still 
improving steadily, I returned to Utica, and went 
thence with my family to Wyoming Valley, where I 
spent a week or ten days, and then proceeded to 
Conference. 

The Oneida Conference met at Lowville, Lewis 
County, July 14, 1831, Bishop Soule presiding. On 
my way thither I spent a night in Cazenovia, where 
I was waited upon by the stewards of the Church, 
who stated their desire that I should be appointed to 
serve them the next year. I explained to them the 
state of my health, saying that I had preached but 



I/O Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

twice in four months — that I feared I would not 
be very effective — and that I certainly could not 
undertake to preach three sermons every Sabbath. 
They replied that they would be satisfied with what I 
found myself able to do, and that they would secure 
for me all the aid I might need. I saw no reason to 
decline their kind invitation. 

During the session I preached once, and made a 
missionary address. For the first time I was asked, 
on the conference floor, whether I desired to say any 
thing in regard to my health. I answered promptly, 
" Nothing," being resolved to try another appointment, 
trusting in the grace of God. I was accordingly ap- 
pointed to Cazenovia, and also elected delegate to 
the next General Conference. I at once removed my 
family to my new field, and began my work. Our con- 
gregations filled the Seminary Chapel, in which all 
our religious services were held, and I soon became 
greatly interested in my people. There were mem- 
bers who joined the Church when I was laboring on 
Cortland Circuit in 1817. The teachers and stu- 
dents of the Seminary formed a large part of the 
audience at every meeting. To preach twice every 
Sabbath tried my physical strength severely for a 
time ; but I gradually improved, and before the close 
of the year my health seemed fully re-established. I 
went on with my studies during the year, taking reg- 
ular lessons in Greek, under the instruction of Pro- ■ 
fessor Hoyt, and attending lectures on several of the 
natural sciences, I derived great advantage from the 
new opportunities afforded me. 

Having no place of worship except the chapel 



Casenovia. 171 

of the Seminary, the leading members of the Society- 
were very anxious to erect a church edifice. A sub- 
scription had been circulated, but failed to secure an 
amount sufficient to warrant the commencement of 
the work. I proposed to the trustees the plan of 
selling the pews, and thus securing the needed funds. 
They adopted the suggestion, fixed upon the size and 
style of the building, prepared a diagram of the audi- 
ence-room, numbered the pews, and set them up at 
auction. At the first sale about half the pews were 
sold, the proceeds amounting to more than half the 
sum needed for the building, and contracts were im- 
mediately entered into for the erection of a stone 
edifice. 

A protracted meeting held during the winter re- 
sulted in the conversion of twenty-five or thirty souls, 
and yet was not, on the whole, as useful as we had 
hoped. Little things are sometimes greatly in the 
way of important enterprises. , An active and erratic 
local preacher, a student in the Seminary, had intro- 
duced into Cazenovia and the region round about a 
mode of conducting prayer-meetings which caught 
the fancy of some and greatly annoyed others, in 
the Church and out of it. His plan was to set all 
present praying aloud at the same moment. Instead 
of saying, " Brother B. will now lead us in prayer," 
he would say, " Now let us all pray," and imme- 
diately there would arise a miniature Babel, a noisy 
chaos of indistinguishable sounds. Finding this to 
be the local custom, I did not at first interfere with it ; 
but soon becoming convinQcd that it was doing evil, 
I set myself to the work of reform. The transition 



172 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

from the old way to the new, however, could not be 
made easy and pleasant to all ; and while some were 
rejoicing in the new order of things, others shook their 
heads mournfully, and talked about the lost " life and 
power " of our meetings. Still the disorderly method 
was laid aside, and a wiser one established. 

The General Conference of 1832 sat in the city of 
Philadelphia. I was entertained at Thomas Kelley's, 
with George Pickering, Peter P. Sandford, and George 
Harmon. Bishops M'Kendree, Roberts, Soule, and 
Hedding were present at the Conference, all appar- 
ently in robust health, except Bishop M'Kendree, 
who was scarcely able to preside. He undertook to 
preach a sermon in memory of Bishop George, who 
died in August, 1828. The text, " He was a burn- 
ing and a shining light," was well selected, but the 
sermon of the venerable bishop was almost a failure. 

During this General Conference we had an earnest 
debate on the subject of pews. There was a very 
decided difference of opinion. New England was 
in favor of them, and it was generally conceded that 
the plan was useful, and perhaps necessary, in that 
part of the work. The South and West were op- 
posed. Dr. Fisk took a leading part in the debate, 
urging such a change of the Discipline as would leave 
each Society to decide the question or its own local- 
ity. The delegates of the Genesee and Oneida Con- 
ferences united with those of New England in sup- 
port of the proposed change, and for the first time 
I made a set speech in General Conference. The 
change, however, was not effected. Some of the 
brethren who were in the majority admitted that 



Cazenovia. 173 

they could not deny the local necessity, but they still 
were unwilling to change the rule, and thus encour- 
age a general abandonment of the old method. They 
preferred to see the rule disregarded in certain sec- 
tions of the Church rather than repeal it, and thereby 
inaugurate agitation and strife every- where else. 

Two bishops were to be elected, and there was 
a great deal of talk over possible candidates. Dr. 
Capers proposed that a meeting, composed of one 
delegate from each Conference, be held to consider 
the subject. At this meeting I represented the 
"Oneida Conference. Dr. Capers proposed James O. 
Andrew as the Southern candidate, stating that he 
held no slaves, and was therefore wholly unexcep- 
tionable. "Some one present asked the doctor why 
he himself would not consent to be a candidate. He 
answered with great apparent candor, " I am, from 
necessity, not from choice, a slaveholder. Slavery is 
a local institution, and it would prejudice a bishop at 
the north to be connected witlj it. When I was a 
delegate to the British Conference I felt the embar- 
rassment. I there really represented the whole 
Church — slaveholders and non-slaveholders ; but I 
was so identified with the South in policy that I 
found it difficult, not to say impossible, for me to 
properly represent the views and feelings of the 
Northern portion of the Church." 

This was the spirit of Dr. Capers's remarks, and 
this, so far as I recollect, was the language. The 
delegates from the North and East proposed the 
name of John Emory. When I reported the result 
to our delegation, all seemed satisfied with it except 



174 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Elias Bowen, who strongly objected to Mr. Andrew, 
and declared that he intended to vote for Dr.Capers, 
even if he was a slaveholder. In my reply to Dr. 
Bascom's pamphlet, in 1845, I referred to this mat- 
ter, and said that, so far as I knew, all our delegates 
voted for Mr. Andrew, but an examination of my 
private memoranda, and more thorough reflection, 
make it necessary to admit the exception. John 
Emory and James O. Andrew were elected. 

On the last day of the Conference Bishop Emory 
took the chair for the first time, and, as is generally 
the case during the last hours of the session, there 
was a great press of business and great difficulty in 
keeping order. The new bishop, however, displayed 
great ability as a presiding officer, and won the admi- 
ration of all parties. 

The Oneida Conference met at Manlius, Ononda- 
ga County, N. Y., July 12, 18^2. I was reappointed 
to Cazenovia, and had a prosperous year. A revival, 
in the autumn, occurred at Woodstock, in the neigh- 
borhood of my old acquaintance. Elder John Peck. 
The work was carried on chiefly by the instrumen- 
tality of one of the preachers on Madison Circuit. 
Several local preachers from the seminary, as well as 
myself, assisted him. A large class was formed, com- 
posed of Elder Peck's regular hearers and the chil- 
dren of his members, who held their meetings within 
sight of his residence. 

Our new church was dedicated on Christmas Day. 
The presiding elder, John Dempster, preached in the 
morning, the pastor in the afternoon, and Z. Paddock 
in the evening. We commenced a protracted meet- 



Casenovia. 175 

iiig immediately, and had a gracious revival, during 
which a large number of the students were brought 
into the Church. Early in February, 1833, 1 preached 
one of the sermons at the dedication of the new stone 
church at Auburn, and was requested to remain and 
preach again the next evening. I did so, and the 
truth was indeed "the power of God unto salvation." 
A considerable number of penitents presented them- 
selves, asking the prayers of God's people. I was 
invited to stay and preach the next evening, and 
again complied. The meetings continued, and I was 
still constrained to remain, and did remain for three 
weeks, preaching every evening as well as on the 
Sabbath. The work assumed a very interesting 
type, taking hold of a large number of leading citi- 
zens, some of whom had been avowed Universalists, 
and others infidels. 

Returning to my home at the end of the period 
named I resumed my regular duties, but had hardly 
recovered from the weariness of the Auburn cam- 
paign when the presiding elder made his appearance, 
and announced that he must remove me to Auburn, 
and that I must be there by the next Sabbath. He 
called the official members together, explained the 
emergency, and asked their consent to my removal. 
One of the brethren asked : — 

" What if we do not give our consent .-' " 

" Then I shall remove him without it," replied Mr. 
Dempster. 

We made our arrangements as soon as possible, 
and started for our new charge. My wife was so 
exhausted by the fatigue and excitement of the sud- 



176 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

den movement that she became seriously ill on the 
way, and I was obliged to leave her at the house of a 
friend at Camillus. It was three weeks before she 
was able to complete the journey. 

My new situation was somewhat delicate. The 
congregation was chiefly new, gathered from all 
quarters in a time of wonderful excitement. No 
doubt my reputation in the community was suffi- 
ciently high, but it had been acquired under peculiar 
circumstances. The aggressive revival influence, 
which, when I was there before, swept onward with 
the force of a mountain torrent, had subsided. And 
as the rocks which are buried out of sight in the 
flood come again to the surface when the waters ebb, 
so the time had come for old prejudices to appear, 
and old associations to assert their power. Fully 
aware of the adverse influences, I thought I saw the 
hand of Providence in the matter, so far as I was 
concerned. I resolved, therefore, to put my trust 
in God, and go. forward. I studied diligently, and 
preached with all my might three times every Sab- 
bath, and once during the week. 

The general result was, perhaps, equal to reason- 
able hopes. A number of prominent men had been 
received on probation, only a few of whom became 
full members. The second Presbyterian Church re- 
ceived a large number of our converts, and the pastor 
had the candor to say, on their reception, that they 
were not the fruits of his own labors. But with all 
these and other losses, we still had a strong Church 
and a fine congregation. 

Being anxious to avail myself of all the advantages 



Auburn. lyy 

within my reach, I commenced soon after my removal 
the study of Hebrew under the instructions of Dr. 
Mills, professor in the Theological Seminary, and after 
a few private lessons joined the class, and went on 
regularly with the students. The hours allotted to 
study I devoted chiefly to Hebrew, Greek, and bib- 
lical criticism. I derived great assistance from Dr. 
Mills, who gave me free access to his large and valu- 
able library. All this was what I had greatly desired. 
It was hard for me to leave my kind friends at Caz- 
enovia ; the burdens of our new circumstances were 
not light, but here was the compensation. Becom- 
ing exceedingly interested in the history of the prim- 
itive Church, I formed the project of writing several 
small books, embracing the lives of the apostles and 
their immediate successors. Dr. Durbin, then the 
editor of the "Advocate" and of our publications, 
favored the plan, I accordingly prepared a small 
-volume, entitled the " Lives of the Apostles and 
Evangelists," which, in due time, was published, 
but subsequent events interrupted my labors in 
that direction, and I never completed my project. 
In fact I was tasking myself beyond reason, and be- 
fore long paid the penalty. My head began to feel 
heavy, and there was a dull, steady pain. Taking a 
little drive one day this pain became so intense that 
I was compelled to stop at the house of a friend and 
ask to be permitted to lie down and rest. A physi- 
cian was immediately summoned, but it was several 
days before I could be conveyed to my own house, 
and weeks before I preached again, or attempted any 

kind of labor. I resumed my studies by degrees, but 
12 



178 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

it was a long while before I could endure my usual 
amount of close application. 

The Oneida Conference held its session at Caz- 
enovia, commencing September 28, 1833, Bishop 
Hedding presiding. The chief matter of interest 
connected with the session was the movement made 
in behalf of the seminary. The preachers were urged 
to pledge certain amounts, which they were to be at 
liberty to raise among the people, or pay out of their 
own pockets. I had already subscribed and paid a 
sum which was more than all I was worth financially 
at the time of subscription ; but, moved by the exi- 
gency, we all pledged ourselves again, and the insti- 
tution was placed upon a secure basis. 

Dr. Fisk attended this session of our Conference. 
He was then in the height of his fame. On Sabbath 
morning he preached a most powerful sermon, under 
which men quailed and wept, from whom, perhaps, 
the Gospel had never before drawn a tear. As we 
were walking together afterward Bishop Hedding, 
alluding to the sermon, said : 

" That's preaching for you ! No one who heard it 
will ever forget it." 

I was at this Conference appointed to Auburn. In 
the latter part of February, 1834, we held a pro- 
tracted meeting, which continued for two weeks, 
and was blessed in the conversion of about seventy 
persons. 

Two or three incidents occurred during the meet- 
ing which may be worthy of mention. One of the 
leading Universalists of the town had attended the 
revival meetings of the previous year, and professed 



Auburn. 179 

religion. He wished to unite with the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, but his wife, who belonged to an- 
other denomination, strongly opposed it. The result 
was that he did not unite with any Church, became 
discouraged, and perhaps irritated, and finally re- 
turned to his old ways. When our meetings began 
this winter I noticed that this man was often pres- 
ent in the congregation, generally sitting near the 
door, with a number of wild young men about him, 
and I soon began to suspect that some mischief was 
on foot. 

The work commenced, and numbers came forward 
every evening for prayers. One evening I gave the 
general invitation, and immediately about twenty 
of these young men arose and came in procession 
through the middle aisle of the church, and knelt 
down in a row. I saw at once the spirit of the move- 
ment, but proceeded as if all was right, first giving a 
brief exhortation, and then holding a prayer-meeting. 
When the time came to close, I requested the breth- 
ren to pass along the line and take the names of the 
professed penitents. This was not an unusual thing, 
and attracted no particular attention. The next day 
the town was full of talk in regard to the "hoax" 
which had been played off at the expense of the 
Methodists, and some of our people were greatly 
disturbed. I thought I saw a way to deal with the 
case, and had no fears. 

The next evening I preached, and then referred to 
the occurrence, stating that I was fully aware that 
the young men had done what they did in pursuance 
of a plan devised by older heads, with the design of 



i8o Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

making a burlesque of our services. I denounced it 
as a foolish scheme, planned to hinder the work of God, 
and sure to fail. I assured them that they might as 
well expect to extinguish the flames when a house is 
burning by scattering straw upon it ; but that the 
wickedness of the design and the greatness of the 
insult were in nowise diminished by the utter failure 
in which it was destined to end. Then, drawing a 
paper from my pocket, I added, " I have here the 
names of those who engaged in this business. I 
warn you, at your peril, not to repeat the offense. If 
you do, you will be punished. You will find that we 
have rights, and know how to maintain them." 

I then went on with the service, inviting, not hypo- 
crites, but honest penitents, to come and seek the 
Lord. To the astonishment of many, the commun- 
ion railing was nearly filled with those who came to 
weep and pray, of whom ten found peace that hour. 
The whole congregation remained till the close of 
the meeting, and all felt that the right had triumphed. 
The whole community condemned the insolent and 
heaven-daring conduct of the scoffers, who soon 
learned also that they had committed, in the eyes 
of the law, a very serious offense, for which they 
could be severely punished. Several of them became 
so alarmed that they called upon me to apologize, 
and beg me not to expose them. This affair made a 
talk for a time, but our meetings went on prosper- 
ously, and we had a large accession to the Church. 

Just before the close of our meetings another sin- 
gular affair occurred, which, however, did not come 
at that time to the knowledge of the public. A young 



Auburn. i8l 

man, over whom an old and respectable minister of 
the Episcopal Church seemed to have some sort of 
guardianship, professed to experience religion among 
us. He had a degree of talent, and took part in 
prayer and exhortation in the young people's meet- 
ing. Suddenly he ceased to attend. Then I received 
a note from the minister informing me that a young 
man, a resident in his family, had practiced an impo- 
sition upon me, for which he required him to make 
an apology, and wished me to call at his house for 
that purpose. I went, taking with me my friend 
Goodwin. The parson and his wife seemed quite 
grieved at the occurrence. The young man was 
called in and requested to state the case. He re- 
plied briefly, in a low voice, to the effect, that he had 
made a false profession ; he knew it was wrong, and 
was sorry for it, that he desired to ask my pardon, 
and have nothing more said about it. I listened to 
the confession, but hardly knew what reply to make ; 
and to this day, I do not know whether the hy- 
pocrisy was in the profession of religion, or in the 
retraction. So far as I could see, he seemed full as 
sincere in the first performance as he did in the 
last. 

This was, to me, a winter of severe labor and trial, 
but of prosperity in the Church of which I was pas- 
tor. My family was in the Wyoming Valley, and I 
lived a sort of solitary life, spending much time 
among my books. In reading Professor Stuart's 
" Commentary on Hebrews," I found that he gives 
up the Calvinistic exposition of the passage, chapter 
vi, 4-6, and suspends, upon a mere spider's web, the 



1 82 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

theory of the impossibility of total apostasy. I wrote 
an examination of his exegesis, and it was published 
in " The Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review," 
vol. of 1835, pp. 221-230. 

The Oneida Conference assembled in Auburn, 
September 25, 1834. Bishop' Hedding presided. 
The various services exerted an excellent influence 
upon the public mind. I was returned to the charge 
at Auburn. By previous appointment I was to de- 
liver an address before the Literary Society of the 
Conference at this session. I selected the subject of 
Ministerial Education as my theme. The question 
of theological seminaries had been discussed in the 
Magazine and Review by two writers. Dr. D. M. Reese 
in opposition, and Rev. Le Roy Sunderland in favor 
of them ; and so much acrimony had been displayed, 
that the editor. Dr. Bangs, declared the contro- 
versy at an end, so far as that publication was con- 
cerned. The discussion greatly interested me, and 
I regretted its sudden termination. I wrote to Dr. 
Fisk, asking his opinion. He replied, admitting the 
importance of theological training, but declaring that 
the time to establish seminaries for that purpose had 
not yet come, nor could we attempt it without crip- 
pling our rising colleges. 1 
The friends of theological seminaries in the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church were few. The discussion 
had also got into the columns of " The Advocate," 
but was very distasteful to many readers. A number 
of preachers of the Philadelphia Conference had 
united in a formal remonstrance against its admis- 
sion into the paper, and the editor. Dr. Durbin, ac- 



Auburn. 183 

cordingly excluded it. In my address, I took the 
unpopular side, and declared myself in favor of such 
institutions. Willing to let my argument go before 
the whole Church, I afterward revised my notes so as 
to leave my reasoning unchanged, and yet avoid all 
terms and allusions that would involve me directly in 
the prohibited controversy ; and the substance of the 
address was published in the Magazine and Review 
for 1836. I have lived to see precisely my line of 
argument adopted by the General Conference, and 
leading that body to action in favor of theological 
schools. I name these facts, not through ostentation, 
but hoping that my being at one time twenty years 
ahead of the age may be pleaded in mitigation of the 
offense, if I should at any time be convicted of fall- 
ing behind it. 

During my second year at Auburn I performed 
the duties of chaplain at the State Prison one third 
of the time, often preaching one sermon there, and 
three in my church, the same Sabbath. In August, 
1835, I received a letter from the Board of Trustees 
of the Oneida Conference Seminary, informing me 
of my election to the principalship of that institu- 
tion. I had never aimed at any such position. My 
studies of every kind had been prosecuted with sole 
reference to my high calling as a minister of Christ. 
I vi'sited the seminary, however, conversed with the 
trustees, and finally accepted. 



184 Life and Times of G, Peck, D.D. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

1835-8, CAZENOVIA SEMINARY. 

THE Oneida Conference met at Osw^o, Sep- 
tember 24, 1835. Bishop Hedding presided. 
In addition to the usual business, the Conference 
discussed the project of a local paper for the special 
benefit of the Genesee, Oneida, and Black River 
Conferences. 

The Rev. Green P. Moore, formerly of the Maine 
Conference, and Francis A. Wiggins, of New York, 
proposed to undertake the enterprise. They had 
printed a specimen number of the proposed journal, 
entitling it " The Western Banner," and came to Con- 
ference seeking recognition as the Conference organ. 
The movement was strongly opposed by Dr. Bangs, 
the editor of the " Advocate," and Rev. B. Waugh, 
then Book Agent at New York. The Conference, 
however, favored the enterprise, and so declared itself 
in formal resolutions. This first attempt to secure 
an organ in Central New York was not altogether 
successful, as we shall see hereafter, but it did good 
service, and resulted in something stronger and more 
permanent. 

I was again chosen one of the delegates to the 
General Conference. Z. Paddock succeeded me as 
pastor of the Church at Auburn. 

Immediately on the adjournment of Conference I 



Cazenovia Seminary. 1S5 

removed to Cazenovia, and entered upon the duties 
of my new position. For nineteen years I had been 
devoted solely to the work of an itinerant Methodist 
preacher, declining no labor, and hesitating at no 
sacrifice, which the needs of the Church required. I 
felt that my new path deviated from the old, but re- 
solved, nevertheless, that I would not give up the 
ministry as the great business of my life. When the 
school opened in the autumn we had about two hun- 
dred students, of whom about a hundred and fifty 
boarded in the seminary buildings. I taught He- 
brew, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Logic and 
Rhetoric, managed the general business of the insti- 
tution, and yet found opportunity to preach. The 
health of the pastor of the Church at Cazenovia, 
Rev. N. Rounds, was not firm, and I took his place 
once every Sabbath, and also labored at various 
points in the vicinity. 

In the seminary we had good order and attention 
to study, and our affairs moved on smoothly till about 
midwinter, when I discovered that there was among 
the students a little knot of young men who pro- 
fessed to be infidels. They were not timid in the 
declaration of their sentiments, and yet showed no 
active hostility until we were favored with a season 
of religious interest in the school. There were many 
professors of religion among the students. Prayer- 
meetings in their rooms were of frequent occurrence, 
and the young men were sometimes overheard in 
earnest prayer for " backsliders and infidels." This 
excited the anger of those who deemed themselves al- 
luded to in these terms, and they threw off their mask. 



1 86 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

One Saturday morning, while I was conducting the 
usual exercises of the day, one of the students, whose 
father was a very respectable member of the Church 
and a trustee of the seminary, undertook to read, as 
the essay for which I called, a paper designed to 
bring revivals and religion itself into contempt. I 
ordered him to stop, and directed him at the same 
time to leave his paper on the desk, according to our 
rule. He ceased reading, but refused to leave his 
essay. I went on with the exercises, and at the con- 
clusion addressed the students on the subject, stating 
what I considered it my duty to do as a Christian 
minister, placed at the head of an institution founded 
by a body of Christian ministers. Public attacks on 
the religion of Christ could not be tolerated. The 
offender must apologize for his conduct, but I would 
allow him a certain time to consider the matter. 

He refused to comply ; his case was considered in 
a meeting of the "trustees convened for the purpose, 
and he was expelled, and informed that he must 
leave the institution by nine o'clock the next morn- 
ing. Precisely at the hour named the young man 
left, attended by twelve or fifteen others, who es- 
corted him to the gate, where a sleigh, drawn by four 
horses decorated with ribbons, received them, and 
they drove two or three times around the square, 
carrying a flag, and cheering as they passed the 
seminary. After the excitement was over I had 
private interviews with these sympathizers, and all 
yielded but one, who was expelled, and the infidel 
club came to an end. The institution was charac- 
terized thenceforward by a decided religious tone. 



Cazenovia Seminary. 187 

The General Conference of 1836 met at Cincin- 
nati, a place which I and the other Oneida delegates 
reached by divers methods of traveling. We rode in 
a wagon to Nanticoke, where we embarked upon a 
raft and floated down the Susquehanna, forty or fifty 
miles, to Northumberland ; thence we rode by stage 
to Duncan's Island ; thence took a packet boat on the 
Pennsylvania canal to Pittsbuigh, where we took a 
steamboat down the Ohio, reaching Cincinnati on 
Saturday, April 30. 

The General Conference convened on Monday. 
Bishops Roberts, Soule, Hedding, and Andrews 
were present. Two had gone to their reward within 
a year, Bishop M'Kendree having died in triumph in 
May, 183s, and Bishop Emory having been thrown 
from a carriage and killed instantly the following 
December. Two or three matters were disposed of 
by this General Conference in a way which looks 
curious at the present time. Dr. Martin Ruter was 
chairman, and I a member, of the Committee on 
Education. The doctor wanted the committee in 
their report to consider the subject of theological 
seminaries, and pronounce against them. I resisted, 
arguing that there was no such institution in con- 
nection with our Church ; that the General Confer- 
ence had given us no instructions to examine the 
question, and that it was not expedient for us to go 
out of our way for a subject. These views prevailed, 
and thus the Conference was, perhaps, saved from the 
embarrassment of a false position. 

The slavery question came up, and caused some 
excitement. The address of the British Conference 



1 88 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

alluded to the subject, and there was opposition to 
its publication on that account. A committee on 
slavery was appointed ; but before they reported, 
another incident, small in itself, occurred to add to 
the agitation. Two of our delegates, Orange Scott 
and George Storrs, one evening attended an aboli- 
tion meeting, and took part in the proceedings. 
This was considered by some to be of sufficient 
importance to justify extraordinary action in the 
General Conference. Hence Stephen G. Roszel, of 
the Baltimore Conference, introduced a preamble and 
resolutions, which were passed, censuring the two 
brethren, and taking ground that looked decidedly 
pro-slavery. This action, and the discussion which 
preceded, not only increased the excitement, but 
gave great advantage to those who were anxious to 
prove that the Church was a defender of the "pecul- 
iar institution ;" an advantage of which they availed 
themselves for years. I was opposed to the resolu- 
tions, and voted against them, believing them wrong 
in principle, a misrepresentation of the attitude of 
the Church, and practically mischievous. I was in 
the minority, which was very small ; but time soon 
vindicated our position. 

The agitation, moreover, soon showed itself at 
another point. The Conference resolved to elect 
three new bishops, and the Southern delegates, for 
the first time in the history of the Church, openly 
demanded the election of a slaveholder. They nomi- 
nated W. Capers, J. Early, and T. A. Morris. Dr. 
Capers had utterly changed his opinions since the 
previous General Conference. He made no objec- 



Cazenovia Seminary. 189 

tions now to be named as a candidate for the Epis- 
copacy. The Northern candidates were B. Waugh, 
M. Ruter, and G. Peck. Dr. Fisk stood very high in 
the estimation of the Church, and would have been 
the first choice of the Northern men could he have 
been spared from the Wesleyan University. It was 
also believed that he would prefer to remain there ; 
but he was in Europe at the time, and could not be 
consulted. Dr. Winans, however, nominated him in 
open Conference, possibly with a view to disturb the 
plans of the Northern delegates. Messrs. Waugh 
and Fisk were elected on the first ballot. The vote 
stood thus : Whole number of votes, 153 ; necessary 
to a choice, ^^. B. Waugh, 85 ; W. Fisk, ^^ ; T. A. 
Morris, "jQ ; M. Ruter, 54 ; W. Capers, 47 ; G. Peck, 
35 ; N. Bangs, 26; J. Early, 10. T. A. Morris 
needed but one more vote to elect him, but he did 
not receive a majority till five or six more ballotings 
were had. 

During the session I received the sad intelligence 
of the death of my friend and colleague. Rev. Josiah 
Keyes, who was to have roomed with me at the Gen- 
eral Conference. He was an eloquent and powerful 
preacher, a wise administrator, and a devoted Chris- 
tian. By untiring perseverance he had made himself 
a thorough scholar. He read Greek, Latin, and 
Hebrew almost as readily as English. His constitu- 
tion was broken down with excessive labor in the 
study and the pulpit, and he died at the early age 
of thirty-seven, having really done enough work to 
occupy a much longer life. He departed in great 
peace. 



igo Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

The General Conference adjourned June 26th, and 
I hastened home, and resumed my work in the 
seminary. Meanwhile our paper, the "Western 
Banner," had become embarrassed. One of the two 
proprietors had left, the other was dying with pul- 
monary disease, and the project would have to be 
abandoned unless its friends came to the rescue. The 
three Conferences chiefly interested, the Genesee, the 
Oneida, and the Black River, appointed committees 
with power to act in the case. In November, 1836, 
the first committee met, bought the paper, appointed 
an executive committee of three — G. Peck, Luther 
Lee, and James Richardson — to manage the business, 
and elected Z. Paddock editor. Loring Grant was ap- 
pointed agent. The name of the paper was changed 
to "The Auburn Banner, and the Genesee, Oneida, 
and Black River Conference Record." 

Thus we ventured upon an enterprise which proved 
useful and troublesome. The paper was a valuable 
medium of communication to the three Conferences ; 
but we had begun wholly without capital, and the 
finances were hard to manage. I had no connection 
with the matter until appointed a member of the 
joint committee by the Oneida Conference ; but as 
a member of the executive committee, I did what I 
could to secure success, and often was compelled to 
become personally responsible for the debts of the 
concern in order to keep it afloat. After a finan- 
cially feeble existence of about three years it came 
to an end, leaving us somewhat wiser from our little 
experiment. The advantages of a Church orgdn in 
central New York were so evident, however, that the 



Cazenovia Seminary. 191 

Conferences not many years afterward established 
one on a better foundation. 

This year the antislavery excitement in our Church 
reached a fearful height. " Zion's Watchman," a 
weekly journal, published in New York, and edited by 
Rev. Le Roy Sunderland, a superannuated preacher 
of the New England Conference, did some good, and 
much evil. It helped to stir the national conscience 
on the subject of slavery, and so far was right ; but 
its spirit was bitter, and its style inflammatory beyond 
description. It denounced the Bishops, the General 
Conference, and the Annual Conferences. It as- 
sailed private character, it violated the sanctities of 
private life, seeming to aim, not so much to win men 
to the advocacy of real reform, as to compel them to 
accept its leadership and adopt its methods. The 
justice of the cause which it represented gave it influ- 
ence, and rendered its errors the more mischievous. 

Dr. Fisk entered the field against the agitators, 
and wrote some scathing articles which were pub- 
lished in the Advocate at New York He did not 
defend slavery, but rebuked the blind destructiveness 
of its unwise assailants. The positions assumed, and 
the demands made by the abolitionists of that period, 
were these : i. Slaveholding is a sin under all cir- 
cumstances ; 2. Immediate and unconditional eman- 
cipation ; 3. No fellowship with slaveholders ; 4. Con- 
ference action. Church action, all through the Con- 
nection ; 5. War upon Church councils, and Church 
officials, who refuse or hesitate to act in harmony 
with the leaders of the reform; 6. No toleration 
of the Colonization Society, or sympathy with its 



192 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

designs. This was the image which the Watchman 
set up, and called upon bishops, preachers, and people 
to fall down and worship, or be cast into its fiery 
furnace of slanderous denunciation. Such were the 
spirit and the measures of the agitators whose errors 
Dr. Fisk, Dr. Bangs, and Bishop Hedding opposed. 

Baron Macaulay remarks that slavery is a devil 
which always rends the body which it leaves. The 
evil may possibly have been so imbedded in the poli- 
tics and financial interests of the nation, that a zeal 
which seemed blind, and a violence which looked 
reckless, alone could rouse the Church and the people. 
Nevertheless, multiplied evils followed. The contro- 
versy engendered secession and disintegration ; soci- 
eties were torn in pieces, and friends were turned to 
enemies. I did not escape. I could not adopt the 
language nor the measures of those who claimed to 
be leaders, and consequently Twas misrepresented 
and reviled, and denounced as an enemy of all truth 
and righleousness. 

Orange Scott and George Storrs, one a member 
of the New England, and the other of the New 
Hampshire Conference, gave themselves wholly to 
the work of agitation. The principal points of ex- 
citement within the bounds of the Oneida Conference 
were Utica, Auburn, and Cazenovia. Our village 
would have remained free from strife had it not been 
brought to bur doors by others. A convention was held 
in the place, and the orators on the occasion, Mr. 
Goodell, Gerrit Smith, and others, assailed the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church in unmeasured terms, vilifying 
her councils and her leading men. Bishop Hedding 



Cazenovia Seminary. 193 

had oflfended certain ultraists by refiismg to put to 
vote, in the New England Conference, resolutions 
indorsing their favorite measures. In retaliation for 
this, a layman from Utica offered, in the Cazenovia 
Convention, a resolution to the effect that they would 
not receive a preacher from the hands of the Bishop 
who refused to put such resolutions to vote in the 
Conferences over which he presided. 

Mr. Gerrit Smith charged, in his speech, that the 
Methodist Episcopal Church was a rumdrinking, 
pro-slavery Church. I replied in the columns of the 
" Auburn Banner " to this assault, charging him with 
misrepresentation. Mr. Smith replied, and we had a 
brief controversy. He admitted, in his final article, 
that he had been misinformed in regard to our true 
position. 

The Oneida Conference held its annual session in 
Cortlandville, New York, August 30, 1837, Bishop 
Hedding presiding 

Messrs. Scott and Storrs came to the place on their 
peculiar errand, and applied to the Baptists for the 
use of their church. Supposing it was needed for con- 
ference business, the Baptist brethren opened the 
doors of their edifice, and Storrs and Scott com- 
menced lecturing every afternoon on slavery and the 
Church. Seeing that our neighbors did not exactly 
understand the case, I offered a resolution in Confer- 
ence, condemning the action of the invaders as irreg- 
ular and intrusive. The house was full, and many 
Baptists were present. Learning the true state of 
things, they withdrew their consent in regard to the 

use of the church. The lecturers tried in vain to 
13 



194 Life and Times ok G. Peck, D.D. 

secure another place, and then left the village. There 
were about a dozen members of the Conference who 
sympathized with them.. They were restless and dis- 
contented, and most of them finally left the Church. 
So fierce an agitation could hardly fail to work divi- 
sion. The leaders, Scott, Storrs, Sunderland, Prindle, 
Lee, and others, had taken such a position that they 
must either bring the Church into their measures or 
leave its communion. Failing to secure the general 
adoption of their views, they seceded and formed the 
True Wesleyan Church. 

The session of the Conference was quite harmo- 
nious, but t)n returning to their Churches, the preach- 
ers here and there encountered difficulties. The 
spirit of controversy was abroad in the land. I was 
formally waited upon, and asked to give my consent 
to the organization of an Abolition Society among 
the students of the seminary. I inquired the object, 
and was told that the aim was discussion. I assured 
the petitioners that they need not fear restriction. 
The question was brought into the Seminary Lyceum. 
We finally drifted into a public debate on the com- 
parative claims of the abolitionist and the coloniza- 
tion societies ; and for three evenings in succession, 
the Congregationalist minister on the one side, and I 
on the other, maintained our respective opinions. 
This discussion had a good effect among the students, 
and we had no further uneasiness on the subject. 

In the disturbed condition of the Church within 
our bounds, Lfelt it obligatory upon me to do what I 
could to warn our people against ill-advised measures 
and hasty action, and accordingly wrote a series of 



Cazenovia Seminary. 195 

four articles which were published in the Banner 
over the signature of 'AXrjOeig ?t.oyoi. With another 
good object in view, I also wrote a series of twelve 
articles on the subject of education, which were pub- 
lished in the same journal. 

During the winter of 1837-8 we were favored with 
a gracious outpouring' of the Holy Spirit in the semi- 
nary, forty or fifty students being converted. One 
notable and very pleasant fact connected with this 
revival was, that every student in the seminary who 
was concerned in the infidel rebellion of the previous 
winter was brought into the fold of Christ. 

The Oneida Conference began its annual session 
at Ithaca, August 22, 1838. The ultra-Abolitionists 
had given us some annoyance, and at various points 
of our territory had done some damage ; and I was 
anxious that the Conference should take such action 
as would, on the one hand, vindicate the Church, 
and on the other, rebuke unreasoning destructive- 
ness. The Conference, however, was slow to act, 
and, as I thought, showed timidity and indecision. 

The seminary was prospering. For three years I 
had labored in the utmost harmony with the trustees 
and the teachers, and had begun to feel at home in my 
position. Providential circumstances, however, were 
destined to Sunder my connection with the institution. 
A member of my family took the measles, and the 
disease attacked every one of the circle except myself 
My wife was very ill for a long time, and when she 
began to regain her strength a little, a tendency to 
lung disease was developed. Our physician warned 
us of the danger of her remaining during the winter 



196 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

in so cold a climate, and advised us to go Soutli. I 
accordingly informed the trustees of the seminary 
that I must have at least six months' leave of absence. 
I resigned my office as president of the board, and 
Hanford Colburn was appointed principal pro tern. 
I sold most of my household goods, and arranged to 
leave the older children in Cazenovia. We set out on 
our journey, October 13, 1838. 

Traveling with an invalid is not apt to be attended 
with incidents of much interest to the public, and 
therefore I do not propose to devote much space to 
this part of my story. Still, things have so changed 
within the past few years, that the younger class of 
readers will not find a brief recital wholly destitute 
of the charm of novelty. 

The first Sabbath was spent at Syracuse, where 
I heard an able sermon from the Rev. William 
W. Ninde, now deceased. He was one of the 
most gifted of our young ministers. His discourses 
were eloquent, and often powerful — overwhelming. 
He was a devoted, earnest Christian. He died 
,early, but his name is still held in grateful remem- 
brance. 

Progress was slow in those days. To reach Ithaca 
from Auburn, a distance of forty miles, by stage, 
occupied twelve weary hours. A miserable horse- 
railroad between Ithaca and Owego afforded no more 
speedy transit. On the 24th of October I embarked 
with my wife and infant child on a canal packet at 
Wilkesbarre. The next day we were delayed several 
hours at Northumberland. This place was the last 
residence of the celebrated Dr. Priestley, who was 



Cazenovia Seminary. k^j 

equally famous for his discoveries in natural science 
and his heresies in theology. He discovered oxygen 
gas, and advocated materialism. I visited his grave. 
A marble slab contains the following inscription : 
" To the memory of the Rev. Joseph Priestley, who 
departed this life the i6th of February, 1804; anno 
(etatis 71. ' Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the 
Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.' " " I will lay 
me down and sleep, till I awake in the morning of 
the resurrection." 

At nine o'clock in the evening of the 25th October 
we reached the junction of the North Branch and 
Pennsylvania canals, and went on board a western 
packet. The boat was crowded, and the captain in- 
formed us that he could offer us no accommodations 
for sleeping. My wife made some kind of terms with 
the chambermaid, and disappeared. I pushed my 
way into the main cabin, which was packed with men, 
the majority of whom were noisy, restless, and pro- 
fane, and many of them half-drunk. I jaassed the night 
not in sleep, but in- serious thought, suggested by 
what I saw and heard. The next morning the packet 
grounded, and a large number of the passengers, I 
among the rest, went ashore to help push her off. 
We succeeded, but were compelled to walk three 
miles before we could get on board again. On Sat- 
urday, the 27th, we reached Huntingdon, where we 
learned that a breach had occurred in the canal, 
and that for the next eighteen miles it was not nav- 
igable. The passengers were crowded into large 
wagons, which were covered with coarse canvas, and 
without springs, and we thus made the eighteen 



igS Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

miles. We embarked again ten miles from Holli- 
daysburgh, which place we reached at eight o'clock 
in the evening. Here we spent the Sabbath, and had 
a delightful season of rest and religious privilege. It 
was quarterly' meeting ; the presiding elder,. Rev. 
John Miller, was in the place, also President Durbin, 
of Dickinson College. In the society of these and 
other good brethren we spent two pleasant days, our 
enjoyment being heightened by contrast with the 
noise and profanity on the packet, and the murder- 
ous ride over the mountains. 

We reached Pittsburgh on Thursday, November i, 
and were cordially received by our old friend, James 
Borbidge. Here we learned, to our consternation, 
that the Ohio was so low that it was not navigable. 
Three thousand travelers, it was estimated, were 
gathered in the city, waiting for the moving of the 
waters. We were detained thus three weeks. Our 
friends exerted themselves to the utmost to make 
our detention tolerable, and even pleasant, and we 
received many tenders of hospitalities, more than we 
were able to accept ; but our child became danger- 
ously sick, and we greatly desired to reach our jour- 
ney's end. Meanwhile the host of detained travelers 
continued to accumulate, and daily grew more im- 
patient. It was the policy of the eastern agents of 
the companies interested in this route to conceal the 
fact that steamers were not running on the Ohio. 
Resort was had to all sorts of devices by the impa- 
tient travelers. Some purchased flatboats, and even 
skiffs, and embarked upon the shallow river, with 
the hope of thus reaching the Mississippi. Others 



CazcHovia Seminary. 199 

chartered miserable stages, which promised neither 
speed nor comfort. 

Finally there came a rise in the Ohio, and the steam- 
ers were once more afloat. On Saturday, November 
24, we embarked on board the " Canton," and started 
down the river. But after we had gone about ten 
miles we ran upon a ledge of rocks and were fast. 
Another steamer came to our rescue, fastened a haw- 
ser to us, and tried to drag us into deep water, but 
failed. There we stayed all night, and nearly all the 
next day until at last an " ark " was brought along- 
side and freight transferred to it till our steamer 
floated, when we began our voyage again with the ark 
in tow. The cold was intense, and the river full of 
floating ice. We went on a few miles further, some- 
times touching the bottom, sometimes drifting side- 
wise, sometimes going stern foremost, sometimes 
standing still, considering what to do next. At last, 
surrendering to the inevitable, w^e reached the shore 
and tied our steamer to the trees. A small stern- 
wheel boat was obtained, by which we succeeded in 
reaching Wellsville, fifty miles from Pittsburgh. 
From this place a crazy old hack bore me and mine 
to Steubenville, where we spent the Sabbath. 

On Monday, December 3, we embarked on another 
small steamer, the last one that went down the river 
that season, and arrived at Wheeling, where, contrary 
to our original plans, we were destined to remain till 
spring. The preacher stationed in Wheeling, the Rev. 
Wesley Kenney, received me as a brother beloved, 
and adopted me as a co-laborer in the Gospel. He 
commenced, soon after our arrival, a series of meet- 



200 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ings which were very successful. I aided him in his 
work, and also spent some time in teaching a select 
school. We enjoyed the situation so well, found so 
many warm friends, and saw so much good done, that 
we were ready to consider our detention providential, 
and on leaving the place in March, felt somewhat as 
we had often felt in leaving a pastoral charge at the 
end of our term of service. 

Leaving Wheeling, March 25, 1839, we spent the 
succeeding Sabbath at Louisville, where I preached 
twice, and on the 5 th of April reached Nashville, 
where we remained till the 23d. During our stay 
we took the opportunity to visit General Andrew 
Jackson. The Hermitage was a large, well-con- 
structed house, with spacious piazzas front and 
rear, in the midst of a beautiful plantation. The 
general's wife had died some years before, and had 
been interred in a corner of the garden. A spher- 
ical ropf, supported by graceful columns, covers her 
grave, and a horizontal marble slab records her vir- 
tues. -By its side was another slab of the same kind, 
without inscription, which I inferred was intended by 
the General for his own tombstone. 

I found the old hero alone with his family, and free 
to entertain me with the story of his remarkable 
career. He was now in his seventy-third year, but 
genial, cheerful, and companionable, seeming more 
like an old friend than the acquaintance of an hour. 
He invited me to remain with him till the next day, 
which invitation I accepted. Mrs. Donaldson, the 
wife of his adopted son, and her group of beautiful 
children, seemed almost to worship him, and to be hi 



Cazenovia^ Seminary. 20 r 

turn the objects of his idolatry. Religious order 
appeared to pervade the household, and the old age 
of the famous warrior and statesman was as the calm 
sunset after the day of clouds and storm. He died 
in June, 1845. 

We spent three Sabbaths in Nashville, and I 
preached twice each Sabbath. One of the most 
interesting services was held in the African Church. 
The congregation was large and the worship earnest, 
and in the best sense of the term, enthusiastic. 
We found many friends in the city, and our recol- 
lections of our visit are very pleasant. 

We left Nashville in the latter part of April, visited 
St. Louis, where we spent a few days, and thence went 
to Lebanon, Illinois. Here we found our friends Mr. 
and ■ Mrs. Baldwin, who had removed hither from 
Pennsylvania some years before, and taken up their 
abode on Looking-glass Prairie. Here we also found 
M'Kendree College, then just beginning its career of 
usefulness and honor. This prairie contains one of 
the most perfect mounds of the west. It is about 
forty-five yards square on the top, and perhaps fifteen 
feet high. Six or seven smaller ones surround it. 
Who erected the group, and for what purpose, none 
can with certainty tell. They stand the mementoes 
of an age which has passed away and left no other 
records. 

Leaving my wife and child at Lebanon, I returned 
to St. Louis, and thence took passage on a steamer 
bound up the Mississippi. Some two hundred miles 
above St. Louis we saw, on the Illinois side of the 
river, a very singular encampment. A multitude of 



202 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

people, men, women, and children, ragged, dirty, and 
miserable generally, seemed to be living in tents and 
covered wagons, for lack of better habitations. This 
strange scene presented itself along the shore for a 
mile or more. We were informed that they were 
Mormons, who had recently fled frpm Missouri. The 
place where we saw them became afterward Nauvoo, 
the city of the Latter-day Saints. 

On Saturday, May 1 1, we landed at Stevenson, Illi- 
nois, and finding that we were destined to remain 
here till Monday, set out to examine the situation in 
regard to religious opportunites. I ascertained that 
there was a Society of Methodists in the place, and 
that it was the time of quarterly meeting. I was 
among total strangers, and on board the steamer had 
been known only as " the 'squire," the captain hav- 
ing bestowed that honorable title upon me in token 
of respect ; but the Methodists found me out, and I 
had the privilege of preaching once on Saturday and 
twice on Sunday, besides listening to three other ser- 
mons, and attending a love-feast. 

The next day the presiding elder, Rev. Henry 
Somers, kindly offered to take me in his carriage 
and help me on my way. We rode to Dixon's Ferry, 
and thence to Kishwaukie, following an Indian trail 
a part of the time. We passed the place where, in 
the year 1S32, a battle was fought with the Indians, 
and our forces, commanded by General Stillman, 
were defeated. We saw the place where the troops 
were encamped, the stakes to whicJa the tents were 
fastened, the ashes of their camp-fires, and the com- 
mon grave in which the slain were buried. Only 



Caze7iovia Seminary. 203 

seven years before, Black Hawk and his savage bands 
swept over these beautiful plains, and spread terror 
far and wide among the newly-planted settlements. 
We tarried a day at Pine Creek, the very day on which 
a committee, appointed to choose a site, located the 
Rock River Seminary at that place. On Saturday 
we directed our course across the open prairie to 
Gap Grove, the place of the next quarterly meeting. 
Four brethren accompanied us on horseback, and 
we all came near being lost in a slough of unfathom- 
able mud. 

The arrangements for the meeting were ample, 
but primitive. The place was a log school-house, 
without a sawed board in it. The floor was made of 
split-oak planks, the door was of the same, and was 
hung on wooden hinges. Seats of rails were arranged 
before the door, with an awning of green boughs. 
Mr. Somers preached at noon on Saturday, and Mr. 
Wood, a presiding elder from the Indiana Confer- 
ence, in the afternoon. The next day we had a love- 
feast and two sermons. There was a large congrega- 
tion. I counted fifty wagons ranged around us. On 
Monday we crossed the Winnebago Swamp, and the 
next day reached the residence of my esteemed friend. 
General Samuel Thomas, from Kingston, Pennsyl- 
vania, where I had a delightful visit. Thus, in vari- 
ous visits, and little explorations of a country new to 
me, the remainder of the month was passed, and I 
then returned to St. Louis, and thence started home- 
ward, on a steamer bound for Pittsburgh. 

Both the Mississippi and Missouri were high and 
obstructed with flood-wood. During the night the 



204 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

floating logs pounded incessantly upon the bow and 
the wheels of our vessel, and the engineer's signal- 
bell was continually ringing. We entered the Ohio, 
and, touching at Louisville, proceeded up the river on 
the afternoon of the 3 ist of May. About four o'clock 
the next morning all on board were startled by a tre- 
mendous crash. I hurried out of my berth to see 
what had happened. As I did so a gentleman 
who occupied the other berth said, in a quiet way, 
" Stranger, you are not scared, nor nothing ! I am 
going to finish my sleep." I found the vessel sink- 
ing. Rushing to the ladies' cabin, I hurried my wife 
out, with the child, and was on the point of going up 
to the hurricane deck, when the vessel grounded, with 
the water within eighteen inches of the floor of the 
saloon. There was, of course, great excitement. My 
sleepy friend postponed the remainder of his nap, 
came out of his room, and I saw him, when the dan- 
ger was over, pensively gazing down into the hold 
where a large quantity of groceries belonging to him 
were submerged. A blind man stood leaning against 
his state-room door, perfectly motionless and silent. 
I said to him afterward, " My dear fellow, were you 
not dreadfully frightened .' " " O, no," said he, " I 
never am scared ; I never yet got into any trouble 
where I could not see my way out." 

The disaster was caused by the breaking of some 
part of the engine, the fragments of which had torn 
a hole in the bottom of the vessel. If the mishap 
had occurred when we were in deep water, and un- 
able to reach the shore in time, there would have 
been a fearful loss of life. Thankful that things were 



Cazenovia Seminary. 205 

no worse, the passengers were disposed to be cheer- 
ful. The pilot had run the boat ashore, and we lay 
very near the land. A forest of large trees lined the 
margin of the river. Morning came, ushering in a 
beautiful day. A large number of those on board 
were transferred to the shore. The cook, with his 
stove, accompanied them ; a coffee mill was nailed 
to a tree, and in due season a satisfactory breakfast 
was spread before us. Here we waited for another 
boat going up the river. Just as evening came, a 
steamer approached and took a part of our pas- 
sengers. The rest of us waited till the next 
chance. About ten o'clock at night another steamer 
coming up received us on board, and we arrived safe 
at Cincinnati the next morning. It took four days 
more to reach Pittsburgh ; and six thence to Wilkes- 
barre, where we arrived on the 12th of June. 

The journey had not been in vain. My wife had 
been greatly benefited ; and, in addition to this, I 
had acquired a little knowledge of the great West by 
personal observation, seen some old friends, formed 
some new ones, and preached the Gospel about as 
often as I would had I been at home. 



2o6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 



CHAPTER IX. 

1839, SUSQUEHANNA DISTRICT. 

THE Oneida Conference met at Norwich, August 
21, 1839. Bishop Hedding presided. I had 
previously sent the trustees of the seminary a letter 
dissolving my connection with the institution. I 
was appointed presiding elder of the Susquehanna 
District, and also elected a delegate to the General 
Conference. The appointments were read Thursday 
evening, and my first act in my new position was 
early the next morning to behold the distress and 
the tears, and hear the protest, of a young man who 
had been set down for that same Canaan Circuit to 
which I was sent in 1820, when it was almost a wil- 
derness. Now a railroad ran through the center, 
and good roads traversed it in every direction ; the 
people were living in comfort, and not a few were be- 
coming rich. Still, the Bishop was so far moved by 
this young preacher's anguish of soul that he released 
him from the unwelcome appointment, and left him 
in the hands of the presiding elder for another, if any 
could be found worthy of him. The district over 
which I was appointed to preside comprised, in 
1839, fifteen appointments, twenty preachers, and 
about four thousand members. 

I spent the Sabbath succeeding the Conference at 
Cazenovia, where I heard Bishop Hedding preach a 



Susquehanna District. 207 

great sermon, which stirred the depths of my soul ; 
and then, bidding farewell to my many valued friends 
there, returned to Kingston, the place fixed upon as 
our residence. 

The early part of this year was to me a memorable 
period on account of certain religious experiences 
which, not without much reflection and some hesita- 
tion, I have concluded to record more at length 
than has been my custom. 

I was not conscious of any spiritual decline, but, on 
the contrary, felt that I was advancing. The evi- 
dence of my acceptance with God was clear. From 
the time of my conversion, and especially from the 
time of my entrance into the ministry, I had striven 
to exercise a constant faith, " to have always a con- 
science void of offense toward God and toward men," 
to be obedient to every Divine call, yielding a willing 
service. Still, I was not at rest. Grateful for all 
that I had received, I felt that there were better 
things in store for me. I began more and more to 
hunger for deeper spirituality, a stronger faith, a 
prompter and more complete victory over temptation, 
a new advance into better light and richer joy. 

At my first quarterly meeting on the district I 
preached on the subject of holiness, with no great 
satisfaction to my own mind, but in pursuance of a 
determination to seek a deeper work of grace in my 
own soul and preach it to others. The next week I 
went to a camp-meeting in M'Clure's Settlement, on 
the Lanesborough Circuit, where I preached three 
times with unusual liberty, my yearning after a clean 
heart constantly increasing. It was a time of rejoic- 



2o8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ing and of power. Two brethren were active and 
useful in the meeting, and attracted my attention. 
One was Major Dixon, a great and good layman, 
famous as a leader in the prayer-meetings, which 
were in his charge throughout the entire week. Plis 
control over a crowd was something wonderful. He 
issued his orders with the air of a general on the field 
of battle. When he shouted, " Power ! power ! On, 
brethren, on ! " it was like the storming of a battery ; 
and when he paused and said, " Hark ! hark ! Si- 
lence," the stillness of night followed. None of the 
preachers interfered with his management. There 
was always unity of design, perfect harmony, and 
uniform success in his plans. His equal, in his own 
line of service, I never saw. 

The other one referred to was Dayton F. Reed, 
afterward a member of the Newark Conference, and 
now, I doubt not, in the home above. He had been 
for a short time at the Cazenovia Seminary, but could 
not confine himself to study. He was at this time a 
young man of about twenty-one years of age, deeply 
pious, enthusiastic, with a very acute and active 
mind, and a reputation for eccentricity. He had 
received license as an exhorter, and on the strength 
of the authority bestowed was constantly preaching. 
He came to me on Sunday morning, and said that he 
thought that God required him to " sound the alarm 
somewhere" that day. I told him that older men 
must occupy the stand ; but that if he felt like it he 
might, at the close of the morning sermon, mount a 
certain wagon that stood a little way off, and preach 
till the time for the afternoon service to as large a 



Susquehanna District. 209 

congregation as he could gather. This seemed to 
please him, and as soon as the morning service 
closed he mounted the wagon, and with all the 
strength of his lungs shouted, " All you who want to 
hear the crazy boy talk for awhile draw near." The 
whole multitude gathered about him, and he held 
them for two hours hstening to an argumentative 
and convincing discourse on the existence of God, 
the divinity of Christ, the certainty of a general judg- 
ment, and the eternal do6m of the lost. I stayed to 
hear every word of the sermon. For conclusiveness 
of argument, originality of illustration, and forcible 
appeal, I have seldom heard its equal. 

The next week I attended another camp-meeting 
in South Canaan, during the progress of which I 
preached four sermons. My spiritual necessities 
were pressing more heavily than ever upon my 
heart. We closed Saturday morning with a sacra- 
mental service. As I was making some remarks 
after the sacrament I came, without any previous 
intention, to speak of my own religious state, and 
observed that my experience had been somewhat 
variable, and of too low a grade, but that I expected 
to be " made perfect in love in this life." This acci- 
dental allusion, as it seemed, to a solemn question 
which I had answered at the time of my ordination 
and reception into Conference membership, fell upon 
my own soul with so much weight that I could not 
refrain from weeping. 

Spending a Sunday in my quarterly meetings at 
DundafF and Carbondale, I returned home, where I 
remained several days suffering great mental de- 
14 



2IO Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

pression, and feeling an increasing self-abhorrence 
and thirst after God. 

The next Sunday, in the love-feast at Gibson, sev- 
eral clear testimonies were given to the enjoyment of 
perfect love. I began now to feel the blessing near, 
and was more than ever fixed in my purpose to seek 
until I attained it. Monday morning, September 30, 
I woke in the spirit of penitence and prayer. The 
Rev. William Reddy, one of the preachers on the 
circuit, led the family devotions in the house where 
we lodged. As he read the fifty-firstpsalm the words 
came home to my mind with new light and power, 
and pierced my soul like sharp arrows. During his 
prayer my tears flowed freely, and it was only by 
strong effort that I refrained from weeping aloud. 
As we were traveling in the same direction that 
morning I took a seat with Mr. Reddy in his car- 
riage, and led my horse. He had told us something 
the day before of the possession of the blessing, and 
I wished to converse with him on the subject. His 
account of his past experience and his present enjoy- 
ments was modest, clear, and, as I judged, scriptural. 
He was much younger than I, but I was ready to be 
taught by any messenger whom God might send, so 
I fully opened my mind to him. My hunger and 
thirst for holiness were increased by our commun- 
ings, and when our roads diverged and I left this 
dear brother and rode on alone till night, I prayed 
with every breath. 

Tuesday, October i, I rose, in the spirit of prayer, 
and resumed my homeward journey. I crossed the 
Susquehanna at Tunkhannock, and rode forward in 



Susquehanna District. 2 1 1 

inexpressible anguish. When passing through the 
forest and solitary places, where there was none but 
God to hear, I uttered aloud my burning supplication 
for a clean heart. I came to a stream where the 
oridge had been swept away in a recent flood, and 
as I was preparing to ford it these words came with 
power to my soul, " O that thou hadst hearkened to 
my commandments ! then had thy peace been as a river, 
and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea." As 
my horse entered the water, and went in deeper and 
deeper, the great deep of my soul was broken up, 
and I wept aloud, with exclamations of self-condem- 
nation and self-abhorrence. My whole being seemed 
dissolved in a torrent of godly sorrow ; but in a mo- 
ment I caught encouragement from the language of 
the prophet. It implied a Divine wish that men 
would hearken. I was most assuredly willing, eager 
to hear the voice Divine. Quick as lightning I felt that 
God would bless me and write his commandments on 
my heart. An indescribable change passed through 
all the avenues of my spirit. God seemed to be 
there, in the glory of his grace. I melted like wax 
in the presence of the Lord. I sank into nothing. 
Christ was all, elevated upon the throne of his holi- 
ness. As my horse gained the shore I felt that I, 
too, was emerging from troubled waters and gaining 
the land of rest. In the fullness of my joy I wept 
aloud and gave glory to God in the highest. I went 
on my way exulting in God, the holy and adorable 
God, whose glory I now saw, as never before, im- 
pressed upon mountain and rock, forest and river, 
and whose presence and favor I felt so powerfully 



212 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

that I seemed almost in heaven. In this inexpressi- 
bly happy state of mind I reached my home in the 
evening, scarcely knowing how I had passed over 
the road. 

This was the way in which God led me, and for 
his glory, and with devout gratitude, I pen the nar- 
rative. I write not for "the wise, the scribe, the 
disputer of this world." My years are passing, and 
soon, to me, neither the praise nor the censures of 
men will possess any value. Still, when my eyes no 
more behold the light, other eyes may rest upon this 
page, and the record is made with the humble hope 
that here and there a reader wbose soul thirsts for 
the living God may be thereby encouraged, and 
therefrom gain, possibly, a little light. 

I would also add, with humble gratitude and 'giving 
God all the glory, that the impulse which my relig- 
ious life then received has helped me ever since, even 
to this hour. From that day I have had a stronger 
faith, a deeper joy, a clearer evidence of my accept- 
ance with God, a readier and more thorough victory 
over temptations of every kind. I have labored to 
exercise a faith which would enable me to hold my 
position, and I have never wholly failed. Gloom has 
gathered about me at times, but the light has always 
returned. A "faith that constantly appropriates the 
blood of Christ is able to maintain, in the soul, a 
constant fellowship with God the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost. 

In regard to the duty of relating what God has 
done for us, one cannot well judge for another. I 
have seldom felt that I was called to say much in 



SusqueMnna District. 213 

mixed assemblies about this peculiar experience ; 
still there certainly are times and occasions when an 
unostentatious profession may not only be allowable, 
but beneficial. When earnest Christians commune 
one with another in regard to the possibilities of the 
religious life, and are of one heart and one mind, wait- 
ing for the salvation of God, it is certainly right for 
each to tell all that God has done for him. This 
question came before me at an early period of my 
own experience, and I find my conclusions thus set 
down in a memorandum made at the time : — 

" I. God should be acknowledged in his gifts 
whenever an opportunity occurs which promises 
good results. 2. The example of eminent Chris- 
tians, both the living and the dead, encourages us 
in this course. 3. The help and encouragement 
which such relations afforded me when I was athirst 
for full salvation, convince me that they may be of 
service to others in like circumstances." 

I will here take the liberty of expressing, in regard 
to another phase of the general subject, an opinion 
to which I tend. I incline to think that one who has 
enjoyed a great salvation, does not by unfaithfulness 
decline into simple justification, but falls into con- 
demnation, from which new acts of repentance and 
faith must lift him, if at all, not simply to a justified 
state, but to something of the condition from which 
he has declined, though it may be in some cases a 
shade less joyous, than before. 

There were soon indications of a high degree of 
religious interest throughout the district. There was, 
in fact, a revival in every charge. Many were con- 



214 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

verted, and many attained the love which " casteth 
out fear." Protracted meetings were every-where in 
progress* Wherever I went to attend my quarterly 
meetings I was importuned to remain and help in 
the work. Even the few days which I ocpasionally 
spent at home were not an exception. Revivals were 
in progressin the Churches at Wilkesbarre and Forty 
Fort, and for weeks services were held every even- 
ing, and between the two my "rest days" were as 
busy as any. 

This year, dating from tbe organization of the first 
Methodist Society in London, was the centenary of 
Methodism, and was celebrated as such both in En- 
glanfi and America. One evening, in the latter part 
of October, I .delivered an address in the old church 
at Forty Fort on the subject of education, in which 
I advanced the idea that a Methodist seminary was 
needed in the Wyoming Valley, and that Kingston . 
furnished as good a location as could be found for 
such an institution. This was the first formal step 
in the movements which resulted in the establish- 
ment of the Wyoming Seminary, a school which is 
an ornament of the beautiful valley in which it is 
located, an honor to the Methodist Episcopal Churchy 
and one whose strong sons and daughters, " polished 
after the similitude of a palace," are found on every 
side. 

'During the year I read every thing upon the sub- 
ject of holiness which fell in my way — Wesley, Ben- 
son, Treffry, Watniough, Carvosso, and especially 
Fletcher, whom I esteemed the greatest of modern 
Christians, and whose words and spirit were sweeter 



Susquehanna District. 215 

to me than " honey and the honeycomb." I found it 
a large field for study, the source of grand inspira- 
tions, the marrow of the Gospel, and an essential 
element of Methodism. I became more and more 
convinced of the great practical value of the doctrine, 
and grounded in the Wesleyan theory of it. I gave 
my brothers an account of my experiences without 
giving them any definite name, however, and also 
wrote to Bishop Hedding on the subject. My letter 
seemed greatly to interest him, and we seldom talked 
together afterward without his referring to the matter, 
and inquiring in regard to my progress. 

On the 23d of October, 1839, our beloved mother, 
aged seventy-one years, died in the house of my 
brother, Jesse T. Peck, at Gouverneur, N. Y. She 
became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in 1803, and continued such, without reproach, until 
she was removed to the Church triumphant. She 
was a true mother in Israel, kind and conciliatory 
in disposition, firm and patient under trials, praying 
without ceasing, with strong and victorious faith, 
"fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." She had a 
sympathetic heart, which prompted her to care for 
the sick and the poor, and seek diligently the wan- 
dering, the discouraged, and the reckless. Her burn- 
ing zeal impressed all who came into her presence. 
The giddy and the profane were struck dumb by her 
tender reproofs, uttered in well-chosen words, and in 
the spirit of kindness ; and her desire for the salva- 
tion of souls often engaged her in personal efforts 
which won them to the Saviour. 

She was the mother of five sons and six daughters. 



2i6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

She early consecrated her children to God, and 
sought, by precept and example, to lead them to 
Christ. They were all converted, and united with 
the Church. Two of her daughters died before her, 
in holy triumph, and she lived to see all her sons 
ministers of the Gospel. When she heard the last 
one of them preach, she said, " Now, Lord, let thine 
handmaid depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen 
thy salvation." Her death was peaceful, triumphant ; 
a fitting close to such a life. The Rev. E. Went- 
worth, D.D., now editor of the " Ladies Repository," 
was present at the closing scene, and in reference to 
it, penned the following : — 

" Sacred music is appropriate to the chamber of 
death. At that hour, when worldly concerns have 
receded, when it is almost profanation to converse 
above a whisper, the sacred song 

" ' May stir the brooding air.' 

" Years ago I stood by the death-bed of a mother 
in Israel. A venerable servant of God, in other days 
a leader of sacred song, was. waiting to close the eyes 
of the companion of his youth. The breeze of an 
autumnal evening rustled the drapery of the open 
window ; but besides this, there was no sound save 
the deep breathing of the aged sufferer. Suddenly 
the soft, silvery, tremulous voice of the white-haired 
veteran fell upon the ear : — 

" ' Give joy or grief, give ease or pain. 

Take life or friends away. 
But let me find them all again 

In that eternal day.' 



Susquehanna District. 217 

" I fancied that the dying saint listened to the 
music of two worlds, and listening, smiled and 
died." 

Spring found me considerably worn down with ex- 
cessive labors. My finances, also, were in an unsatis- 
factory condition. I had expended something in im- 
proving my place at Kingston. My receipts from the 
district amounted to about ;^300 for the year, and 
were not equal to my wants, as may well be imagined. 
How to avoid ultimate embarrassment I could not 
see. I was solicited, in two or three directions, to 
take charge of literary institutions, and very possibly 
might have accepted an invitation of the kind, had 
I not been providentially led into another field of 
labor. 

On the 29th April, 1840, I reached Baltimore, the 
seat of the General Conference. On Friday, May i, 
the Conference assembled in Wesley Chapel. Bishops 
Roberts, Hedding, Andrews, Waugh, and Morris 
were present. Bishop Soule was detained a few 
days by sickness. Rev. Robert Newton, delegate 
from the English Wesleyans, was present, and made 
a brief address, as did also Revs. John Ryerson and 
Joseph Stinson, of Canada. Sunday morning I 
preached in the Lutheran Church, and at five o'clock 
heard Dr. Newton preach to an immense multitude 
from the piazza of Barnum's Hotel, in Monument 
Square. His text was : " This is a faithful saying, and 
worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into 
the world to save sinners." The eloquent sermon 
made a profound impression. 

Several petitions on the subject of slavery had 



21 8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

been previously presented ; but on Monday a num- 
ber more came from the New England, the New 
Hampshire, and the Genesee Conferences ; and the 
Southern members of the General Conference were 
evidently becoming uneasy. Dr. Few, of Georgia, 
felt that he was called to define his position in re- 
gard to these memorials. He was ready to hear 
brethren on any subject if their language was re- 
spectful. They might address the Conference on the 
evil of poverty, for instance, and he would hear them 
at reasonable length. Poverty, he said, is as great 
an evil as slavery. Bishop Waugh, who was presid- 
ing at the time, pronounced the remarks out of order, 
as no motion was pending ; but it was evident that 
the North and the South were drifting away, each 
from the other, in their views on the whole subject 
of slavery. 

In the afternoon and evening of the same day we 
had a political episode. It was the beginning of the 
memorable campaign which resulted in the election 
of General Harrison as President of the United 
States. When the name of the General was first 
publicly brought forward, some editor or orator on 
the other side spoke of the candidate as a man of 
little mind and low pursuits, whose sordid ambition 
rose no higher than a log-cabin, and a satisfactory 
supply of hard cider. The Whigs at once took up 
the foolish expression, wrested it into an insult to the 
common people, and proclaiming their man as the 
people's candidate, inaugurated extraordinary meas- 
ures for rousing popular enthusiasm. Mass meet- 
ings were held, processions were got up, in which 



Susquehanna District. 219 

miniature log-cabins figured, ornamented with raccoon 
skins and cider barrels, and serio-comic songs were 
sung, with thunderous choruses, in praise of " Tippe- 
canoe and Tyler too." We saw one of these proces- 
sions, some three miles long, pass through the streets 
of the city, the concourse of participants and specta- 
tors being estimated at a hundred thousand. In the 
evening I heard Henry Clay address an immense 
crowd in Monument Square, but was too far off to 
hear well. After him, Mr. Graves, of Kentucky, of 
duel notoriety, poured forth a torrent of invective 
against the Democratic party and its measures. 
While this eruption was in full blaze I and my friend 
left, and went to another meeting held at the same 
hour, where Daniel Webster was to speak. We suc- 
ceeded this time in getting near enough to hear the 
speech. He first addressed the delegates from his 
own State, who were present in large numbers, a 
thousand or more, and then proceeded to an exami- 
nation of the faults and failures of the national admin- 
istration. He was calm, respectful in his language, 
and seemed to appeal to the reason rather than to 
the passions. His voice and manner reminded me 
of Dr. Newton. The intonations of both were upon 
the same grave key ; when in thorough earnest, they 
were overwhelming, and neither of them descended 
at any time from proper self-respect and manly 
dignity. 

I was a member, and the secretary, of the Com- 
mittee on Slavery. The first time we met the 
whole afternoon was spent in an irregular discussion 
between the delegates from the two sections, W. A; 



220 Life and 'Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Smith taking the lead of the South, and O. Scott of 
the North. The Southern delegates took the posi- 
tion that slavery was a merely civil institution, with- 
out any moral character whatever, and therefore not 
a proper subject of Church action. The extreme 
Northern view was, that slavery in itself, and under 
all circumstances, is wrong, sinful. Both Smith and 
Scott agreed that the Church must adopt one or the 
other of these views, and contended against any 
middle course. 

Besides these there was a third party, who held 
that while slavery is wrong, and not for one moment 
to be defended as an institution, yet the individual 
maybe so compassed about by circumstances that the 
legal ownership of a slave may not be a sin. Thus 
the Committee was divided into three parties, each 
tenacious of its own theory ; and as it was composed 
of one delegate from each Annual Conference, it em- 
bodied and expressed the state of opinion existing in 
the General Conference, and throughout the Church 
itself. 

The Committee held sessions almost daily for about 
two weeks, but could agree on nothing except the 
merest generalities. The South demanded that the 
General Conference censure the Abolitionists, and 
reduce them to silence, and indorse the existence of 
slavery in the Church. The Abolitionists, on the 
other hand, demanded that the General Conference 
condemn slavery irrespective of circumstances, and 
rid the Church of it by enacting laws to deal with 
slaveholders as we deal with thieves and murderers, 
Between these upper and nether millstones the mod- 



Susquehanna District. 221 

erate party was in danger of being ground to powder ; 
but, after a long discussion, their views finally pre- 
vailed, and a short-lived truce was secured. 

I was also a member of the Committee on Educa- 
tion. After passing in review the various institu- 
tions of learning under the patronage of the Church, 
a question was raised in regard to the future policy 
which ought to be pursued, ^nd several of our leading 
educators were invited to express their views before 
the Committee. Dr. Bascom, Dr. Dui;bin, and others 
argued that it would be wisest to reduce the number 
of our colleges, and concentrate our means and ef- 
forts in the establishment of two, or at most three, 
great universities ; that two or three strong institu- 
tions would be more creditable and more useful than a 
multitude of feeble schools, without endowment, num- 
bers, or reputation. 

Professor Emory, on the other hand, took the posi- 
tion that the Church was at work in all parts of the 
land striving to foster education, and that the strong- 
est appeal would be made to the people, and the 
largest number of students gathered, by multiplying 
colleges, though many of them must of necessity 
have small beginnings. The question was considered 
at great length in the Committee, and the conclusion 
reached was in favor of retaining all the institutions 
we already possessed. 

Dr. Bascom brought forward a proposition from 
the trustees of Transylvania University, Kentucky, 
to place that institution in the hands of the Church. 
The Committee favored the plan, the General Con- 
ference adopted the recommendation, and the transfer 



222 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

was made. The friends of the University were so 
zealous in its behalf, that they moved the Legislature 
of the State to repeal the charter of Augusta College, 
the oldest of the institutions of learning under our 
care. Dr. Bascom was elected president of the Uni- 
versity, and it died in his hands. Thus ended our 
first attempt to do things on a grand scale in the 
matter of education. 

A somewhat delicate matter came before the Gen- 
eral Conference. Bishop Hedding had presented 
charges against two members of the New England 
Conference. The Conference tried the accused 
brethren, and acquitted them. The Bishop memo- 
rialized the General Conference on the subject, alleg- 
ing that they were acquitted contrary to the facts 
and the evidence. N. Bangs, W. H. Raper, G. Peck, 
and J. Early were appointed a committee to exam- 
ine the case. The Bishop and the delegates of the 
Conference appeared before us ; and, after a. full dis- 
cussion of the affair, the delegates conceded that the 
Conference had erred in its action. Bishop Hedding 
thereupon expressed himself as unwilling to press the 
matter further, and withdrew the complaint. 

Another question came before us which occasioned 
some excitement in the General Conference at the 
time, and the shedding of much ink subsequently. 
The Rev. Silas Comfort, then a member of the Mis- 
souri Conference, admitted, in a Church trialj the evi- 
dence of a colored person against a white member. 
For this action he had been tried by his Conference, 
and censured by formal vote. He appealed from 
the decision of the Conference, and not being able to 



Sztsquekanna District. 223 

attend the General Conference, requested me to con- 
duct his case for him. I did so, urging the very ob- 
vious fact that the appellant had violated no law of 
the Church, and therefore could not be legally tried, 
convicted, and censured. The action of the Missouri 
Conference was set aside. The Southern delegates 
were greatly dissatisfied with this result. Some days 
after, Dr. Few came to me, asking me to approve the 
following- resolution, and favor its adoption by the 
General Conference : — 

"Resolved, That it is inexpedient and unjustifiable 
for any preacher among us to permit colored persons 
to give testimony against white persons in any State 
where they are denied that privilege in courts of 
law." 

The best men of the South solemnly alleged that 
without such a resolution to cover them, the decision 
of the General Conference in the case of Mr. Com- 
fort would ruin Methodism in the Southern States, 
and that, without it, they would be obliged to leave 
us. This Dr. Few declared with all earnestness and 
all apparent sincerity. I had been firm in maintain- 
ing the rights of Mr. Comfort, and had been success- 
ful ; but the appeals of the Southern brethren were 
very strong, and I was moved to favor the resolution, 
which passed. This was my first attempt to concili- 
ate aftd save the South. 

But a little reflection and comparison of views 
convinced me that the rule in regard to evidence 
thus established was unjust and wrong. Moreover, 
Dr. Few's resolution would do more injury at the 
North than the action of th6 General Conference in 



224 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

the Comfort case could do in the South. I, there- 
fore, moved to reconsider the resolution. This 
brought on a protracted and somewhat fierce debate: 
Various attempts to amend were made, but all failed. 
Motions were made sundry times to lay the whole 
subject on the table, but these, too, failed, and the 
daily session closed without a decision. In this un- 
satisfactory state it remained some time, creating 
great uneasiness. ' 

On the 2d of June, Bishop Soule assumed the un- 
usual position of a member of the Conference, and 
read what he ^called a " Plan of Pacification," as fol- 
lows :— 

" First, Resolved, That in the decision of the Con- 
ference in the case of the appeal of Rev. Silas Com- 
fort, it is not intended to express or imply that the 
testimony of colored persons against white persons 
in Church trials is either expedient or justifiable in 
any of the slaveholding States or Territories where 
the civil laws prohibit such testimony in trials at law. 

" Second, Resolved, That it is not the intention of 
the Conference, in the adoption of the resolution of 
the Rev. Ignatius A. Few, of Georgia, in regard to 
the a:dmission of the testimony of colored persons, to 
prohibit such testimony in Church trials in any of 
the States or Territories where it is the established 
usage of the Church to admit it, and where, in' the 
judgment of the constitutional judicatories of the 
Church, such testimony may be admitted with safety 
to the peace of society, and the interests of all con- 
cerned. 

" Third, Resolved, That it is not the intention of this 



Susquehanna District. 225 

Conference, in either of the above cases, or in any 
action had by this body, to express or imply any 
distrust or want of confidence in the Christian piety 
or integrity of the numerous body of colored mem- 
bers under our pastoral care, to whom we are bound 
by the bonds of the Gospel of Christ, and for whose 
spiritual and eternal interests, together with all of 
our fellow-men of every color, and in every relation 
and condition of life, we will never cease to labor." 

These resolutions were passed by a vote of ninety- 
seven to twenty-seven. It will probably strike the 
adherents of parliamentary rules as somewhat sin- 
gular that these resolutions should be introduced and 
passed while my motion to reconsider was still pend- 
ing, and that, after the passage of Bishop Soule's 
resolutions, my motion was gravely laid on the table. 
Bishop Soule's paper was a mere temporary expe- 
dient, and really did nothing toward the settlement 
of the great questions coming before the Church and 
the whole nation. 

Meanwhile this particular phase of the slavery ques- 
tion was not the only shape in which it came before 
the Conference. The Committee on Slavery present- 
ed their final report on the 21st of May. O. Scott and 
three other members of the Committee brought in a 
minority report, but as its publication in the Journal 
was objected to, Mr. Scott contented himself by using 
the substance of it in an extended speech which he 
made against the adoption of the report of the major- 
ity. He was earnest, bold, full of invective against 
slavery, reflecting on the action of the Southern Con- 
ferences, and arraigning the " Christian Guardian," 
15 



226 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

the organ of the Canada Methodists. Dr. Bangs re- 
plied, defending the report, and Dr. Ryerson ex- 
plained his course as editor of the Guardian. 

Dr. Capers followed in a speech an hour long, 
characterized by pathos rather than logic. He com- 
plained that northern interference hindered the south- 
ern preachers in the blessed work of saving both 
masters and slaves ; that northerners denounced 
slavery as a greatmoral evil, while the southern men, 
who alone understood the matter, lamented it as a 
great providential misfortune. With tears he be- 
sought the assailants of the peculiar institution to 
cease their interference, and let those manage slavery 
who were competent to the work. This speech pro- 
duced considerable emotion in certain quarters, but 
did not move the antislavery men of the North and 
East a hair-breadth from their position. 

The Rev. J. Crowther, of the Virginia Conference, 
made a plain, homely, out and out defense of slavery, 
taking the ground that it is right, and justified by 
the word of God. Dr. Few and W. Winans threat- 
ened rebellion and secession. Dr. W. A. Smith un- 
dertook to demonstrate that slavery is philosophically 
an essential element of the social state. 

" Cannot brethren see," asked the doctor, " that 
slavery is service ? Now if service is unjust and- im- 
moral, a man's children cannot serve him, his wife can- 
not serve him, without a breach of the moral law." 

The principal speakers on the antislavery side were 
O. Scott and P. Crandall, who argued against the 
morality and justice of the institution, and all the 
measures necessary for its defense. 



Susqtcehanna District. 227 

On Saturday, May 23, another firebrand was thrown 
to increase the conflagration. O. Scott had presented 
an abolition petition from the city of New York, said 
to contain the signatures of eleven hundred and fifty 
members of the Church. The news that such a pe- 
tition had been presented at Baltimore created quite 
a stir in New York, and much curiosity to know who 
were the signers, and the petition was sent back to 
the city for investigation, though not by the direction 
of the Conference. In due time Rev. C. A. Davis 
and Dr. D. M. Reese came to Baltimore, bearing a 
protest against the petition, and were heard before the 
Committee on Slavery. They alleged that the peti- 
tion contained the names of persons who were not 
members of the Church, and names of persons ap- 
pended without their consent, and that some names 
were inserted twice, and others three times. Warm 
words passed between these gentlemen and Mr. Scott, 
and some of the southern members of the committee 
charged him with imposture. He replied that the 
memorial was placed in his hands by a respectable 
member of the Church, and that he had no personal 
knowledge in regard to the matters complained of 
Thus, in one form or another, the subject continued 
to harass the Conference to the very last session, 
when Dr. Bascom read his report on a memorial 
coming from Westmoreland, but read it before a 
body of men who were weary and impatient, more 
desirous of going home than of continuing a discus- 
sion which produced no changes of opinion. 

The temperance question also excited some in- 
terest. It had been previously discussed in the 



228 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Church papers, the point at issue being the expe- 
diency and necessity of excluding from the Church 
all persons who manufacture, sell, or use intoxicating 
beverages. In the North there was a conviction that 
the General Conference ought to take such action as 
would secure their exclusion. In the South new leg- 
islation of any kind on that subject was opposed. 
The chief argument against it was, that the proposed 
action would introduce a new condition of member- 
ship ; that it would be really a change of the General 
Rules. I wrote an article for the Advocate, taking 
the ground that the rule which requires members of 
the Church to " do no harm," and " avoid evil of every 
kind," fully covered the case, and consequently the 
new legislation proposed by the friends of temperance 
was designed to be merely a specific application of 
the rule. I argued, also, in favor of restoring Mr. 
Wesley's original rule on the subject. 

In March, 1840, Rev. George Lane, who was vis- 
iting the Southern Conferences on the business of 
the Book Concern, wrote me a letter containing a 
reference to this subject : — 

" I was much pleased with your article in the 
Advocate respecting the restoration of the rule 
on ardent spirits. To me it is a subject of vital im- 
portance, one in which the Church and the world are 
deeply interested. Its restoration will meet, however, 
with strong opposition from that quarter particularly 
where it has always been opposed. The principal 
grounds which will be taken are the following : — 

" I. It changes the terms of membership. 

" 2. The conduct prohibited is not ' clearly for- 



Susquehanna District. 229 

bidden in the word of God,' nor does the Spirit 
' write ' the proposed law ' on all truly awakened 
hearts.' 

" 3. It is not expedient. We are not prepared for 
it. It would drive many from the Church." 

Dr. Capers, the editor of the Charleston Advo- 
cate, made a formal reply in his paper to my article. 
I rejoined in the columns of the New York Advo- 
cate, and soon after we met in the General Confer- 
ence. To change a General Rule requires a three- 
fourth's vote of all the Annual Conferences, and a 
two-third's vote of the General Conference. The 
process may be inaugurated either in the General 
Conference or any one of the Annual Conferences. 
The New York Conference had inaugurated the vote 
in favor of the restoration of Mr. Wesley's original 
rule, but the measure failed to obtain the requisite 
majority. An effort was now made to originate the 
movement in the General Conference, but the vote 
was seventy-five in favor to thirty-eight opposed, and 
for the want of one more vote the attempt failed, at 
least for the time. 

I was elected editor of the Quarterly Review. 
I had come to the Conference with no aspirations in 
that direction. My mind was drawn to the subject 
of education, the establishment of a seminary in the 
Wyoming Valley. I had had some experience in the 
management of an institution of the kind, and had 
some taste for the work of a teacher, but the position 
of an editor would be new to me, and I might not 
succeed either in my friends' estimation or my own ; 
still I was fixed upon, chiefly by the Northern delegates, 



230 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

and elected; Dr. Bond, who had been the candidate 
of the South, was elected editor of the New York 
Advocate. 

The General Conference appointed a Committee to 
prepare a Pastoral Address. I was a member of the 
Committee, and it fell to my lot to write the Address, 
which is found in the Journal, but without name or 
date. 



Methodist Quarterly Review. 231 



CHAPTER X. 

1840-4, METHODIST QUARTERLY REVIEW. 

T REACHED Wilkesbarre on Sunday morning, 
J- June 7, preached at the quarterly meeting, and 
then crossed the river to see my family and the 
humble home at Kingston, which we were learning 
to love, but now were called to leave. I moved my 
family at once to New York and began my work. I 
found an abundance of important business waiting 
for me. The Book Agents were anxious to put the 
Journal of the General Conference and the new edi- 
tion of the Discipline in type at the earliest practicable 
moment, and I was expected to read the proof and 
supervise the whole matter. Dr. Elliott's work on 
Romanism was going through the press, and I read 
the manuscript, chapter by chapter, before it was 
placed in the hands of the compositors. The Rev. 
P. C. Oakley, of the Oneida Conference, had been 
designated for the Sands-street Church, Brooklyn, 
but was to remain at Ithaca two months ; and I 
was requested by Bishop Hedding to supply the 
pulpit till his arrival. Amid engagements and re- 
sponsibilities like these I was still to find time and 
strength for my main work, the editing of the Quar- 
terly Review. 

Under the rule of the Discipline, as it then was, 
the Editors and Book Agents were, by virtue of their 



2 32 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

office, members of the New York Conference. I visited 
my old Conference, the Oneida, in August, and, by 
the request of the bishop, attended the sessions of 
the council, and gave an account of the district of 
which I had been the presiding elder. It was a great 
pleasure to me on this occasion to be for a few days 
the guest of my old and tried friend, John Williams, 
Esq., for whom I here desire to record my respect 
and esteem. He was a noble specimen of a man — 
just, generous, true, high minded, one of the wisest 
and most efficient of the trustees of the seminary, 
and an invaluable citizen. 

In the closeness of my application to my new work 
I overdid matters. After a long day in the office I 
was accustomed to go home and have some one read 
to me in the evening. Before many months I was pros-, 
trated by illness, and was warned by my physician 
that I must pay more attention to my health, and lay 
aside some of my business, or my labors would not 
be likely to continue long. And yet it was hard to 
find the right place for retrenchment. The duties of 
my office could not be curtailed, and the calls outside 
were hard to deny. There was an incessant demand 
for sermons. There were then twelve Methodist 
churches in the city, in each of which three services 
were held every Sabbath. Lest the officials at the 
Book Room should grow rusty for want of work, the 
preachers' meeting made out a plan, which assigned 
at least two sermons every Sabbath to each editor 
and agent, and sent him in turn to every church in 
the city. During the autumn and winter we were 
often called to aid in protracted meetings, and I 



Metfiodist Quarterly Review. 233 

sometimes preached three or four times during the 
week, in addition to the labors of the Sabbath. 

Our missionary interests also demanded time and 
care. A heavy debt pressed upon the treasury, and 
alarmed the more cautious members of the Board. 
The idea had prevailed that a bold policy was the 
best, and that the Church would not fail to meet all 
the demands of the work. The result was a debt of 
fifty thousand dollars. Dr. Bond questioned the wis- 
dom of this method, and with his views I fully sympa- 
thized. Retrenchment was finally resolved upon — 
not without strenuous opposition — and the missions 
in Oregon, South America, and Africa were singled 
out as the fields which could best bear it. I was 
chairman of the Standing Committee on the Oregon 
Mission for a year or two, and then was appointed 
chairman of the Committee on the African Mission, 
which post I occupied, I think, until my connection 
with the Book Room terminated. 

Our mission in Africa had become involved in 
difficulty with the Colonial Government. The colony 
was financially weak, our mission had been liberally 
supported, and the superintendent of it had more 
money than the governor. Hence jealousies sprung 
up between the two functionaries, and collisions oc- 
curred. The superintendent of the mission. Rev. 
John Seys, wrote to the Board of Managers, stating 
that timber was abundant in Liberia, but that the 
Government provided no means of making it of use 
to the colonists. He therefore asked that the ma- 
chinery for -the erection of a saw-mill be sent him. 
The machinery was sent, but when it arrived the 



234 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

governor seized it, and refused to surrender it till the 
regular duties were paid. 

The Board determined to abandon the saw-mill 
project, and the machinery was left in the hands of 
the authorities to be destroyed by rust. The feud 
occasioned by this affair was serious and protracted. 
There were two little periodicals published in the 
colony, the " Liberia Herald," which was the Govern- 
ment organ, and " Africa's Luminary," which was pub- 
lished by our mission. These periodicals went into 
the war with great zeal and acrimony, the Herald as- 
sailing the mission, and the Luminary stoutly defend- 
ing it, and both belligerents publishing many things 
which considerate men of all parties regretted. 

The authorities at home took the matter in hand. 
Judge Wilkinson, president of the Colonization So- 
ciety, addressed our Missionary Board, complaining 
of the action of Mr. Seys, and insisting upon his re- 
call. It was even intimated that if the Board refused 
to remove him he would be expelled by force from 
the colony. Mr. Seys came home on business, and 
an earnest discussion took place between the two 
Boards in regard to his return to Africa. A large 
committee was sent by our Board to Washington, to 
confer with the Board of the Colonization Society, 
and we had a full investigation and a protracted 
discussion. Congress was in session, and several 
members attended the meeting, and took part in the 
debate. Mr. Mason, of Ohio, Mr. Underwood, of 
Kentucky, and Dr. Spring, of New York, were partic- 
ularly severe in their attacks upon Mr. Seys. I was 
appointed to set forth our side of the controversy. I 



Methodist Quarterly Review. 235 

showed, from the columns of the two African papers, 
that Mr. Seys was not the aggressor; that the 
Herald had endeavored to bring our mission into 
disrepute, and had assailed the superintendent per- 
sonally ; that he had aided the colonists very materi- 
ally in all their interests, and that hostile action on 
the part of the Colonization Board against our mission 
would injure all parties. The conference resulted in 
an amicable adjustment of the difficulty ; Mr. Seys 
returned to Africa, and harmony was restored both 
at home and in the colony. 

The Oregon Mission, established for the evangeliz- 
ing of the Indians west of the Rocky Mountains, was 
accused of having become too secular in its measures. 
The superintendent. Rev. Jason Lee, had secured 
large tracts of land, and explorers not connected 
with the mission began to complain of it as a monop- 
oly. Several families, sent thither by the Board, were 
ill prepared to encounter the privations of frontier 
life, and became weary of the work which they had 
been sent to prosecute. These complaints and fail- 
ures greatly annoyed the Board, and especially the 
missionary secretary. Dr. Bangs, who had planned the 
arrangements of the mission. There was also a lack of 
harmony among the missionaries, and the condition 
and success of the mission generally did not satisfy 
the expectations of the Church. 

At this juncture, and in pursuance of the policy of 
retrenchment which had been found necessary, the 
Rev. George Gary, of the Black River Conference, a 
gentleman of distinguished prudence and ability, was 
sent to Oregon as superintendent of the mission, with 



236 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

instructions to reorganize it, and to sell all lands and 
other property not needed for a purely missionary 
undertaking. The good offices of Mr. Gary brought 
order out of confusion ; but unforeseen events soon 
changed the aspect of Oregon as a field of mission 
work. Immigration increased along the coast, the 
Indians receded before it toward the mountains, 
and wars broke out between the settlers and the 
native tribes. As an enterprise for evangelizing the 
savages of the Pacific Coast, the mission failed of its 
object. The Board, however, adapted its plans to 
these changing circumstances, and the mission be- 
came the nucleus of the Oregon Conference, and its 
fruits are seen in the Churches and literary institu- 
tions which we have been enabled to plant in that 
new and rising State. 

The mission in Buenos Ayres was also taxing our 
treasury too severely. The missionary, Rev. John 
Dempster, was planning for the erection of a semi- 
nary, but the Board deemed the needed outlay im- • 
practicable and the project was postponed. 

The action of the Board in reference to these three 
missions was, by some of the real friends of the cause, 
denounced as timid and ruinous ; but the effect was 
to establish confidence in the management of the 
missions, and increase the liberality of the Churches, 
so that the debt began to decrease and was finally all 
paid. 

An attack was made upon the Methodist Episcopal 
Church about this time in "The Churchman," the 
organ of the Episcopalians, and I was led to re- 
ply in the columns of The Advocate. The first of a 



Methodist Quarterly Review. 237 

series of sixteen articles was published December 16, 
1840, under the heading of "The Church and the 
Methodists," a title borrowed from our assailant. 
The series contains much that is old, and, perhaps, 
some things which are new and original, in the debate 
with the High-Church pretenders. The Oneida Con- 
ference passed a resolution requesting that my arti- 
cles be published in book form, and I was inclined to 
comply ; but Dr. Abel Stevens, who had been study- 
ing the same subject, announced a volume in much 
the same general line of research and argument, and 
my project was abandoned. 

It may be recollected that the year previous to my 
coming to New York I had been greatly interested 
in the subject of entire sanctification. I found a 
deep interest in it in the New York Churches. In- 
creased attention had been called to the doctrine by 
the fact that several Congregational ministers, Mahan, 
Upham, Fitch, Finney, and others, had lately assumed 
a new position in regard to it, and were earnestly 
engaged in preaching what was called Perfectionism. 
I read their publications with interest, and often 
heard them preach. It looked, at the first glance, 
as if they had embraced the Wesleyan theory of Chris- 
tian perfection ; but a close examination of the lan- 
guage which they employed convinced me that they 
had a theory of their own, and on several vital points 
were in error. By the request of the pastor of the 
Mulberry-street Church, where my family attended, 
the Rev. J. H. Perry, D.D., I delivered a series of 
lectures on the subject in that Church, and afterward 
repeated them, also by request, in the John-street 



238 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Methodist Episcopal Church. Continuing my re- 
searches, I gradually gathered a mass of matter 
which I finally concluded to put in print. 

I believed that the subject needed a more thorough 
review, and more comprehensive treatment, than it 
had hitherto received at the hands of any one author. 
I studied the Church fathers and the Reformers, and 
found that conflicting theories on the subject had 
existed for centuries. Wesley and Fletcher had ably 
discussed the doctrine of Christian perfection in op- 
position to the Antinomian tendencies of their times ; 
but since then the old, exploded dogma of legal per- 
fection had been revived, clothed in a new and spe- 
cious dress. The measures of Finney, Mahan, and 
the rest, attracted attention among our people, while 
their publications called forth from the ranks of 
both the Old and New School Calvinists a host of 
champions in advocacy of the doctrine maintained 
by Augustine and Calvin, of the necessary continu- 
ance of sin in believers. 

These defenders of the Calvinistic theology were 
not content with attacking the errors which had 
arisen among themselves, but undertook to demolish 
all theories of Christian perfection. They brought 
into the discussion nothing that was really new, yet 
the old logic assumed new forms, and was applaud- 
ed in certain quarters as if it had been hitherto 
unknown. My plan was to set forth the history of 
the doctrine, and of the controversies which had 
gathered about it ; to define it in accordance with the 
Wesleyan standards ; to prove it from the Scripture ; 
to answer the objections which had been brought 



Methodist Quarterly Review. 239 

against it ; and to develop its practical bearings upon 
the Christian life. 

In the historical exhibit of the polemics of the 
question, my plan embraced every thing essential to 
a full understanding, not only of the doctrine itself, 
but of the arguments of friend and foe. I had ob- 
served among our preachers a want of precision in 
defining the Wesleyan doctrine ; a want of acquaint- 
ance with the controversy as found in the writings 
of Wesley and Fletcher ; and what seemed to me, a 
growing indisposition on the part of some to study, 
with the diligence necessary to a mastery of the sub- 
ject, the war of mighty thought and mighty words 
which gave Methodism its early triumphs, and enti- 
tled it to be respected not only as a great revival of' 
religion, but as a theological system. Consequently, 
I quoted my authorities suflSciently in extenso to give 
a clear idea of the perspicuity, theological accuracy, 
and logical skill of the old champions of evangeli- 
cal truth. This method of treating the theme in- 
deed makes increased demands upon the attention of 
the reader ; nevertheless, I deemed it needful to a 
thorough understanding of a very important subject. 

The work was published in 1 842, and thoroughly 
revised in 1848. In the revision of the work I 
availed myself of the light derived from the criti- 
cisms of both the adherents and the opponents of 
the doctrine ; and the book, as it stands, records my 
settled views on the subject. 

In December, 1843, I put to press a work on the 
Rule of Faith, which I intended to be an exhaustive 
discussion of the question. I examined extensively 



240 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

the Romish and High-Church authorities ; I com- 
pared the traditionary systems of these writers with 
those of the Jewish Talmudists, and found a striking 
parallel between them. They all obscure the light 
of revelation, introduce serious error, and are con- 
demned by the great Teacher as making void the 
law of God. Dr. M'Clintock published an able re- 
view of it in the Methodist Quarterly Review. 

In the winter of -1843-4 the Rev. James Sewell, 
pastor of the Washington-street Church, Brooklyn, 
having been transferred to the Baltimore Conference, 
I took the charge, occupied the parsonage, and was 
the acting pastor until the following June. 

In May, 1844, the General Conference met in the 
' Greene-street Church, New York. I had been elected 
a delegate by the New York Conference, of which 
the laws of the Church at that time made me a mem- 
ber. I regarded my election by that body as evidence, 
not only of kind feelings toward me personally, but 
of liberality toward strangers. The question of 
slavery was attracting great attention. The session 
had scarcely begun before there were exciting rumors 
afloat in regard to one of the bishops having become 
connected with the institution by a second marriage. 
The Rev. F. A. Harding, of the Baltimore Confer- 
ence, had also become by marriage the legal owner 
of slaves, whom he refused to set free. For this he 
had been tried and expelled by his Conference, and 
had appealed to the General Conference. The ap- 
peal was presented by the Rev. W. A. Smith, of the 
Virginia Conference, while the action of the Balti- 
more Conference was defended by the Rev. John A. 



Methodist Quarterly Review. 241 

Collins, and the other delegates of the Conference. 
•These two champions were both able debaters, ambi- 
tious to do good service to their respective causes, 
and thoroughly interested in the question at issuk 
The contest was long and arduous, and in its prog- 
ress the Conference and the whole Church became 
greatly agitated. It was a conflict between freedom 
and slavery, and the right triumphed. The action of 
the Baltimore Conference was confirmed. 

On the 20th of May the second act of the ecclesi- 
astical tragedy began. The Rev. John A. Collins 
and J. B. Houghtaling offered a resolution directing 
the Committee on Episcopacy to inquire whether 
there was any foundation for the report that " one of 
the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church had 
become connected with slavery." Two days after- 
ward the committee reported a communication from 
Bishop Andrew stating the circumstances of his con- 
nection with the obnoxious institution. On the re- 
ception of this paper the Revs. A. Griffith and J. 
Davis, of the Baltimore delegation, offered an elab- 
orate preamble and a brief resolution requesting the 
Bishop to resign his episcopal office. The remainder 
of the daily session was spent in discussing the mo- 
tion. The next day the Revs. J. B. Finley and J. M. 
Trimble introduced a substitute in the following lan- 
guage :— 

" Whereas, The Discipline of our Church forbids the 
doing of any thing calculated to destroy our itinerant 
general superintendency ; 

"And, whereas, Bishop Andrew has become con- 
nected with slavery by marriage and otherwise, and 
16 



242 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

this act having drawn after it circumstances which, 
in the estimation of the General Conference, will' 
greatly embarrass the exercise of his office as an 
itinerant general superintendent, if not in some 
places entirely prevent it ; therefore, 

"Resolved, That it is the sense of this General 
Conference that he desist from the exercise of his 
office so long as this impediment remains." 

This substitute was discussed day after day. Sev- 
eral plans of compromise were brought forward, but 
failed! On the first day of June the question was 
decided, and the substitute passed, one hundred and 
ten delegates voting in the affirmative, and sixty- 
eight in the negative. 

The debate had been characterized by great de- 
corum, but the excitement which it occasioned was 
intense. On the Sth of June a' deiclaration was pre- 
sented, signed by all the delegates from the slave- 
holding States, except those of the border Confer- 
ences, that " the continued agitation o"n the subject 
of slavery and abolition in a portion of the Church — 
the frequent action on that subject in the General 
Conference^ — and especially the extra-judicial pro- 
ceedings against Bishop Andrew, which resulted in 
the virtual suspension of him from his office as su- 
perintendent — must produce a state of things in the 
South which renders a continuance of the jurisdic- 
tion of this General Conference over these Confer- 
ences inconsistent with the success of the ministry in 
the slaveholding States." 

This declaration was referred to a committee of 
nine — Revs. "IRobert Paine, Glezen Filmore, Peter 



Methodist Quarterly Review. 243 

Akers, Nathan Bangs, Thomas Crowder, Thomas 
B. Sargeant, William Winans, Leonidas L. Hamline, 
and James Porter. 

The next day Dr. Bascom read a protest against 
the action of the Conference in relation to Bishop 
Andrew, and a committee of three, consisting of S. 
Olin, J. P. Durbin, and L. L. Hamline, were ap- 
pointed to prepare a statement of the facts connected 
with the proceedings in the case. Dr. Olin was ex- 
cused from serving on this committee on account of 
ill health, and Dr. Hamline in consequence of his 
election to the episcopacy, and C. Elliot and G. Peck 
were appointed to fill the vacancies. The protest 
which Dr. Bascom read was the work of his own 
pen, and was marked by great boldness of statement 
and strength of language. He read it in his best 
style. The report of the Committee of Three took 
the form of a reply to this Protest. 

The Committee of Nine reported a paper, which 
was adopted. This measure has since been styled in 
certain quarters the " Plan of Separation," but not 
truly, its design being simply to designate the prin- 
ciples by which the Church would shape its action in 
case the Southern Conferences should secede. 

As chairman of the Committee on Slavery, it fell 
to my lot to report the following resolution : " That 
the resolutions passed at the General Conference of 
1840, on the subject of colored testimony in Church 
trials be, and the same hereby are, rescinded." 
Bishop Soule was presiding at the time. He had a 
peculiar way of expressing his opinion in regard to 
any action proposed when he was in the chair. I 



244 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

made a few remarks in support of our resolution, and 
while I was doing so I saw the scowl gathering on 
the Bishop's brow. He shook his head, significantly 
and solemnly, and shrugged his shoulders in token 
of general disapprobation. When he came to put the 
motion, he characterized it as a proposal to rescind 
the " Bishops' resolutions " adopted by the last Gen- 
eral Conference. But neither his obvious displeasure 
nor his little strategy produced any effect. Our re- 
port was adopted by a vote of one hundred and fifteen 
in the affirmative to forty opposed. 

A new arrangement was made by the General 
Conference for the appointment of the Book Com- 
mittees at New York and Cincinnati. Hitherto the 
committee had consisted of the preachers stationed 
in those cities ; and the power to supply vacancies 
occurring among editors and agents was with the 
New York and Ohio Conferences. It was now or- 
dered that the Book Committee at New York consist 
of six preachers, the New York, New Jersey, and 
Philadelphia Conferences each electing two. The 
committee of the Western Book Concern were to be 
elected in like manner by the Ohio, Kentucky, and 
Indiana Conferences. These Committees and the 
Bishops were empowered to fix the salaries of editors 
and agents, and fill all vacancies. This transfer of 
responsibilities and powers was not altogether popu- 
lar with those from whom the transfer was made, but 
was generally approved. It was also determined by 
the General Conference that an editor or agent might 
retain his membership in his own Conference. 

Another change of some importance was made, re- 



Methodist Quarterly Review. 245 

stricting the power of the bishops in the appointment 
of presiding elders. Thenceforward no elder, having 
served a term of four years on a district, could be re- 
turned to that same district until after an interval of 
six years. A restriction was added in reference to 
the appointment of preachers in cities, it being de- 
termined that no preacher should remain more than 
four years in the same city at any one time, nor re- 
turn till after an interval of four years. Those re- 
strictions I regarded at the time as of doubtful utility, 
and the latter has since been repealed. Some prob- 
ably favored them, with the idea that they would aid 
the bishops, and lessen the temptations of the preach- 
ers to localize their labors. It is said, however, that 
the chairman of the committee which reported them, 
Rev. J. B. M'Ferrin, rather boastingly declared that 
his object was, before he left us, to tie up the North 
to the itinerancy, and prevent our going into Congre- 
gationalism. My convictions have always been that 
the efficiency of our system depends upon the exist- 
ence of a strong and untrammeled superintendency. 
Still another important measure wag the appoint- 
ment of an editor for our Sunday-school literature. 
This measure I earnestly advocated. Dr. Bangs op- 
posed it as involving a needless expenditure. Dr. 
Bond, who, although not a member of the General 
Conference, had been invited by vote to participate in 
the deliberations, earnestly seconded the arguments 
of Dr. Bangs, maintaining that his assistant would 
have ample time to do all the work of the Sunday- 
school department. It was argued, on the other 
hand, that we were doing too little in this promising 



246 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

field, and that its interests were of sufficient magni- 
tude to demand one of the best minds of the Church. 
These more progressive views prevailed. 

The proposition to restore to the Discipline Mr. 
Wesley's rule on the subject of spirituous liquors was 
again introduced. The Southern delegates had de- 
feated the measure in 1840, and they still opposed. 
Bishop Andrew had decided, in 1840, that the "ma- 
jority of two thirds," named in the Restrictive Rule 
as necessary to inaugurate a measure of the kind, 
means two thirds of all the members elected to the 
General Conference. When the proposition was 
again brought forward, the Rev. J. Early, of the Vir- 
ginia Conference, offered a resolution that it required 
" two thirds of all the members " to take the proposed 
action. This motion created an animated debate, in 
which I took part, maintaining that a constitutional 
quorum constituted the General Conference ; and, a 
quorum being present, "two thirds of the General 
Conference " are simply two thirds of the members 
present and voting. Mr. Early's motion was lost, 
the vote being fifty in favor of it, and ninety in the 
negative. The vote was then taken on the main 
question, and resulted in favor of the restoration of 
the original rule, there being ninety-nine in favor, and 
thirty-three opposed. The resolution went the rounds 
of the Annual Conferences, and, having obtained the 
requisite three fourths of all the members, the rule 
was restored to its place among the laws of the 
Church. 

The measure afterward termed the Plan of Separa- 
tion was provisional only, to be of no effect unless 



General Conference of 1844. 247 

the Conferences in the slaveholding States should 
find separation inevitable. It was pressed by the 
Southern delegates as a peace measure. Some of 
the leading men among them held out the idea, in 
their conversations with the Northern delegates, that 
the Report of the Committee of Nine, if adopted, 
would tend to prevent separation rather than pro- 
mote it ; that it was an olive branch to carry through 
the South, showing that the Northern Conferences 
were not hostile to the Southern, and had no dispo- 
sition to deprive them of their rights. 

In a conversation with me, Dr. Capers said that he 
" hoped there would be no division. On his return 
home he would go by way of Washington and con- 
sult Mr. Calhoun and Mr. M'Dufifie ; and if they 
thought that the Methodists in the Southern Confer- 
ences could be held in connection with the General 
Conference under existing circumstances, he would 
use his influence to prevent secession." He seemed 
very sincere in all this, and, on the strength of such 
representations, the report was adopted by a strong 
majority ; but before the Southern delegates left New 
York they met by themselves and determined on 
separation, laid their plans accordingly, and returned 
to their several Conferences to carry them into effect. 
It is very possible that the time has not yet come for 
us to pass final judgment on the men who took part 
in these transactions. These things were, in fact, a 
part of the great conflict which was steadily ap- 
proaching — the first scattering drops of the coming 
storm. 

Slavery tends to make the master-race bold, arro- 



248 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

gant, conceited, savage, unscrupulous, and remorse- 
less. He who would uphold it must neither fear God 
nor regard man. It is a despotism which is brutal 
in all its instincts, and blind to justice, honor, hu- 
manity, every thing but its own sordid interests. In 
the free States opposition to the system, on moral 
and rehgious grounds, was becoming daily more 
general, more active and strong. In the slave 
States the institution held an iron sway, ruling polit- 
ical parties, the press, the Church. It was swift to 
reward its friends, and equally swift to punish its 
enemies. It tyrannized over men's lips, and minds, 
and consciences. He that doubted was damned. All 
must bow down and worship the hideous image set 
up, or be cast into the fiery furnace. 

The delegates from the two sections, aside from 
their own personal convictions, were subject to a 
fearful pressure. The proslavery sentiment of the 
South and the antislavery sentirrient of the North 
were equally exacting and vigilant. The one re- 
quired action in the direction of universal liberty, 
the other demanded concessions in favor of slavery. 
If the action of the General Conference seemed for a 
moment to lean in the one direction, there was indig- 
nation and threatened disintegration at the North ; 
if in the other, there was alarm and threats of separa- 
tion in the South. How far the Southern Confer- 
ences were wrong in giving way before the pressure 
— how much of good or evil, as God sees it in the 
hearts of men, was involved in each man's agency 
— none but the Great Judge can tell ; but we do the 
Southern delegates the merest justice when we rec- 



General Conference of 1844. 249 

ognize the straits in which they were placed. No 
possible measures of the General Conference could 
avert calamity. To do what the Southern members 
deemed essential to the welfare of the Churches in 
their ^section would ruin whole Conferences at the 
North ; and even to temporize was full of peril. To 
do all that Northern sentiment demanded would have 
torn the Southern Conferences to shreds. 

Nor were the convictions which men expressed, 
and the positions which they took, determined by 
the latitude of their homes. The field of the Balti- 
more Conference lay chiefly in slave territory, and 
yet its action was steadily in accordance with the tra- 
ditions of the Church. It had expelled Mr. Harding 
for refusing to free the slaves of whom his marriage 
had made him the legal owner, and when his appeal 
came before the General Conference its delegates 
defended its action with the determination of men 
whose convictions are fixed. The Rev. Mr. Collins 
did very effective service. TTwo others, Messrs. 
Griffiths and Davis, introduced the resolution request- 
ing Bishop Andrew to resign his episcopal office. 
Throughout the entire struggle the whole delegation 
" stood as an iron pillar strong." 

The debate in the cases of Mr. Harding and Bishop 
Andrew was marked by great Christian courtesy, yet 
it foreshadowed a rupture of the Church. The North 
was in the right, both morally and ecclesiastically. 
It had been the settled policy of the Church not to 
elect to the office of General Superintendent any man 
implicated with slavery. It was maintained by the 
North, and granted by the South, that such compile- 



250 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ity would impair the efficiency of an officer whose 
duty was to travel through the whole connection, 
North and South, to preside in the Annual Confer- 
ences, to ordain and appoint the preachers, and super- 
intend the whole work. All knew that a slaveholding 
bishop would not be tolerated at the North. Bishop 
Andrew had been nominated in 1832 as a non- 
slaveholding southern man, and as such had been 
elected by northern as well as southern votes. 
When by his own voluntary act he became a slave- 
owner, he voluntarily unfitted himself for his high 
office, and violated the virtual compact. It there- 
fore became the duty of the General Conference to 
remove the impediment. It was a sad issue for the 
delegates to meet, but they met it like men of nerve 
and men of God. The result is before the world. 

The General Conference adjourned on the tenth of 
June, thus terminating a quadrennial session which 
had dealt with more momentous issues, and left a 
deeper mark in the history of the Church, than any 
which had preceded it. Two new bishops were 
elected and ordained at this General Conference, E. 
S. Janes and L. L. Hamline. I was re-elected editor 
of The Quarterly Review. 

At this point I pause in my narrative to sketch a 
few of the leading men who took part in the contro- 
versy which affected so seriously the destinies of the 
Church, and who, by their own action, were soon to 
have no more place among us. 

Bishop James O. Andrew was placed by circum- 
stances in a very conspicuous position. He was 
elected to the episcopacy in 1832, as the choice of 



General Conference of 1844. 251 

the Southern Conferences. He was never a favorite 
at the North. His election was urged by his friends 
on the ground that, while he was every way accept- 
able to the South, he was not embarrassed with the 
ownership of slaves, and consequently would not be 
unacceptable at the North. As we have already seen, 
these views of the matter were openly advanced by 
Dr. Capers in the council called to consult in regard 
to candidates. There never was a time when a slave- 
holder could have been elected bishop in the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church. At the General Conference 
of 1832, a few Southern delegates, among whom Dr. 
W. Winans was conspicuous, did, indeed, take the 
position that slaveholding ought not to be a bar to 
any office in the Church ; but the utterance was 
feeble, and seemed to find little favor, even among 
the representatives of the Southern Conferences. 

Bishop Andrew was the occasion of a contest which 
divided the Church, and yet there is reason to believe 
that if he had been left to determine his own course, 
he would not have occupied this unenviable position. 
He had confined his official labors chiefly to the South- 
ern part of the work, never once going the round of 
the Northern Conferences. He did not know the 
depth and power of the Northern feeling against 
slavery. Unwise counselors, perhaps as ill-informed 
as himself, clamored against his taking any step to 
relieve the difficulties of the situation. He was not 
aware of the gravity of his action when he deliber- 
ately implicated himself with an institution upon 
which the abhorrence of mankind was steadily gath- 
ering. When he began to awake to the disastrous 



252 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

consequences of his action, and was prompted to 
resign his office, and thus avert the catastrophe, his 
Southern friends relentlessly refused to allow him 
to resign. His bearing during the discussion showed 
an utter misapprehension of the facts connected with 
his election, and of the state of opinion in the Church. 
In some in'stances he exhibited a want of dignity, 
and in others the weakness of impatience. In one 
thing he never wavered : he was always a sectional 
Southern man, controlled by narrow views, blind to 
all beyond the line which separated the slave States 
from the free. Pitied for his weakness by some North- 
ern delegates, and condemned by others for his reck- 
lessness, he was the idol of the Southern representa- 
tives, who honored him as a martyr. 

The Rev. Henry B. Bascom, D.D., was the cham- 
pion of the ecclesiastical secession. He was a won- 
derful man. Without the advantages of early educa- 
tion, he had become the prince of orators, endowed 
with an affluence of thought and language unsur- 
passed by -the greatest names of this age. Fitted 
by nature to be one of the brightest ornaments of 
the Church and of the nation, he became the tool 
of a faction, and the special advocate of a doomed 
institution. 

During the General Conference of 1844 up to the 
time when a rupture was evidently threatening, he 
was silent, and occasionally seemed pensive. He 
manifested no interest in Bishop Andrew. He even 
conceded, in private intercourse, that the Bishop's 
conduct indicated a great lack of discretion. At one 
time there was a rumor that Dr. Bascom was about to 



General Conference of 1844. 253 

propose a plan of compromise which might satisfy all 
parties ; and the expectation was so strong, and ap- 
parently so well founded, that the Northern delegates 
were called together to hear his proposition. But the 
Southern delegates met at the same time in another 
place, Dr. Bascom being present. At the close of 
the Southern council he came directly to the meeting 
of the Northern delegates, and, being invited to state 
his plan of pacification, arose, and stood some seconds 
wringing and twisting about like one sensible of the 
awkwardness of his position, and then saying curtly 
that he " had nothing to propose,'' sat down. 

The Rev. John Early then arose, and said that he 
wished it to be distinctly understood that Dr. Bas- 
com was in full accord with the rest of the delegates 
from the South, and would act with them. 

Dr. Bascom gave this declaration the assent of 
silence; and the next thing we heard from him was 
the famous protest. He made no speeches on the 
subject ; indeed, he seldom spoke on any subject, but 
he became the grand scribe of the Southern faction. 
In addition to the Protest, which he read in his most 
impressive mariner in the General Conference, he 
published two large pamphlets, characterized by re- 
markable strength of language and equally remark- 
able inattention to facts. These productions were 
saturated with wormwood and gall. All his wonder- 
ful powers of declamation and invective were enlisted 
for the occasion, and the venom of his pages spread 
far and wide through the South. Thus his splendid 
powers were abased to the fostering of sectional prej- 
udice and hate. Thus he applied his giant strength 



254 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

to push the nation toward the bloody chasm of fratri- 
cidal war. Six years afterward he was elected one 
of the bishops of the Southern Church, but died in 
September of the same year. 

The Rev. William Capers, D.D., was famous dur- 
ing^ his earlier ministry for his powers in the pulpit, 
and even more noted for his ability on the floor of the 
General Conference. In 1820 he was one of the prin- 
cipal speakers in opposition to the election of presid- 
ing elders. During the session of 1824 he took part 
in many of the discussions, and was heard with pro- 
found respect. His delivery was fluent, his whole 
manner pleasing, his logic good. I always listened 
to him with pleasure. In the great debate of 1844, 
however, the unwelcome impression was made upon 
my mind that the silver-tongued orator lacked both 
depth and breadth ; that he often was merely pathetic 
when he ought to have been convincing, and, where 
the occasion demanded the work of strong men, spent 
his efforts on the surface of things. 

Dr. Capers was a good man. He really desired the 
peace of the Church. His heart was right, but he 
was in fetters, bound by his sectional associations. 
He regarded the prospective division of the Church 
as a misfortune, if not a^idgment upon us, and looked 
forward to it with sighs and tears ; but he lacked the 
needful courage and strength to lead in active resist- 
ance to it. He seemed to hope, almost to the last day of 
the session of 1844, that the catastrophe would some- 
how be averted ; but at last yielded, and was swept 
along by the current of sectional influence. He was 
elected to the episcopacy by the first General Con- 



General Conference of 1844. 255 

ference of the Southern Church in 1846, and died in 
1855. In his early days Dr. Capers was what might 
be termed a handsome man, well formed, of rather 
small stature, with a beautiful black eye. His elo- 
quence in the pulpit was engaging and persuasive ; 
his conversational powers were rich. Time wrought 
changes in him ; his brilliancy was less, but he was 
still good. 

Dr. Lovick Pierce, of Georgia, was an independ- 
ent thinker, a scholar, and a gentleman, but intensely 
southern in all his views and feelings. He made no 
set speech on the case of Bishop Andrew, but exer- 
cised as much influence as any other man. He was 
an eloquent preacher, albeit his style was somewhat 
peculiar. He was accustomed to deal in loose sen- 
tences, piling one great thought upon another, and 
closing with a climax, which was like the bursting 
forth of a volcano. In his best efforts he swept all 
before him, like a mountain torrent. He had the" 
singular method of linking one sentence with another, 
holding upon the first till he began the second, and 
fusing the second with the third, and yet this did not 
affect the hearer unpleasantly. He passed through 
the debates of 1840 and 1844 without any loss of 
reputation as a Christian and a man of honor, even 
among those who differed from him in opinion. 

Dr. William Winans, of Mississippi, was in many 
respects a great man. I heard him make his maiden 
speech in the General Conference of i'824, and list- 
ened, perhaps, to all he made, until the separation. 
He was a clear thinker and a logical reasoner. He 
was peculiar in dress, in manner, and in his style 



256 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

of speech. He never wore a cravat, and his collar, 
soiled with perspiration, generally hung awry. His 
speeches in General Conference were always delivered 
in a loud tone of voice, with the vehemence of a 
camp-meeting serraon ; but there were point and 
method in every thing he uttered. His attachment 
to slavery was strong, and his onslaughts on the 
abolitionists were ferocious. He was the first man 
who had the hardihood to take the position that the 
General Conference should protect slavery, and honor 
it by conferring upon slaveholders the highest offices 
in the gift of the Church. This he declared to be 
the only basis of true peace between the North and 
the South. He represented the ultra-southern party. 
He always said what he meant, and meant what he 
said. He never courted the dark, nor concealed his 
aims. In his opinions on the subject of slavery he 
was a fanatic, but in every thing else he was a sober, 
honest, straightforward, hearty Methodist preacher. 
He made a characteristic speech in favor of Bishop 
Andrew, in which he explicitly declared that the 
action of the General Conference would result in the 
secession of the Southern Conferences. 

The Rev. John Early, of Virginia, exercised un- 
bounded influence among the Southern delegates. 
He was a man of courtly manners, and somewhat 
haughty in his bearing. In the General Conference 
he never made a long and elaborate speech, but spoke 
on almost every question, and always with the assur- 
ance of an oracle. His chosen work was to extol 
" the good old Discipline," and defend it against the 
attacks of Northern innovators. He generally con- 



General Conference of 1844. 257 

trived to get a seat near the president's chair. In 
speaking he was accustomed to saw the air with his 
right hand, bringing it down with an emphatic jerk 
at the end of every sentence. He was no favorite 
with the Northern delegates. He led his own party, 
and worried the other more by secret plots and com- 
binations than by his arguments or eloquence upon 
the floor of the Conference. He was a zealot for his 
section and its peculiar institution, and had a full 
share of the' responsibility of the rending of the 
Church. He was the very ideal of a gentleman in 
his intercourse with his friends, and seemed made 
for a leader. He was elected bishop by the South- 
ern Church in 1854, and died in 1873. 

The Rev. William A. Smith, D.D., of Virginia, was 
first a member of the General Conference in 1832, 
and froin the first was the most noisy and blustering 
defender of slavery with whom the North had to 
contend. He was bold, fluent, vehement, and often 
exceedingly offensive to those whom he opposed. 
He occupied more of the time of the General Confer- 
ence of 1844 than any other man. He defended 
Mr. Harding and Bishop Andrew with a will. He 
had not the weight of many of the Southern dele- 
gates, but his confidence and readiness in debate made 
him a convenience to his party, and gave him prom- 
inence in the great discussion on the subject of 
slavery. His speeches were not characterized by 
strength nor ingenuity, but were made up of bold 
oratorical dashes, which excited the admiration of his 
friends and the contempt of others. Both in the 
pulpit and on the floor of Conference he was a thun- 
17 



2S8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

derer, but produced more noise than rain. Without 
the mental grasp to estimate its far-reaching, disas- 
trous consequences, he entered heartily into the 
project of severing the Church. Still, in his private 
intercourse he was agreeable ; and though at times a 
little too presuming, he passed, even among Northern 
delegates, as a very pleasant companion. 

The Rev. A. L. P. Green, of Tennessee, was a man 
of influence and talent, a kind-hearted gentleman, not 
easily excited, but firmly holding his opinions, and 
strongly opposed to abolitionism. His speech in the 
case of Bishop Andrew was bold and defiant, and 
showed some originality and strength. His manner 
of speaking was somewhat monotonous, but the mat- 
ter compensated abundantly for the manner. His 
influence in Tennessee was potent, the 'more so be- 
cause of his quiet, dispassionate manner. Many of 
the old members of the Church were little moved by 
the boisterous declamations of agitators ; but when 
Dr. Green arose in the assemblies which were called 
together to decide the question, and said, calmly, 
" Brethren, we had better go : the North will not 
let us stay on any terms : if we try to remain we 
shall be thrust out " — the opposition gave way ; and, 
although many did it with reluctance, they submitted 
to what they were taught to regard as inevitable. Dr. 
Green was a strong partisan, but nevertheless a high- 
minded, honorable man. 

The Rev. B. M. Drake, of Mississippi, was one of 
the noblest specimens of a Methodist preacher, a 
Christian, and a gentleman. He earnestly desired 
some adjustment of the Church troubles which 



General Conference of 1844. 259 

would prevent division. While the leaders in the 
evil work were shouting, " To your tents, O Israel," 
and laboring to thwart every effort to restore har- 
mony, his great heart bled. Through the whole con- 
test he maintained amicable relations with his old 
friends of the North, but was finally overborne, and 
fell into line under the Southern leaders. He was a 
man of more real pulpit eloquence, of. more polish 
and kindness of heart, than any of his compeers of 
the South. He made a short speech in the case of 
Bishop Andrew, but his remarks were free from acri- 
mony. He, too, has gone to his reward. 

The Rev. A. B. Longstreet, of Georgia, was a man 
of genius, and an out-and-out Southern man. He 
made a speech on the case of Bishop Andrew which 
abounded in references to ecclesiastical history, but 
was not particularly strong in argument. He held 
abolitionism in utter abhorrence. 

" Brethren," said he to the more conservative 
Northern delegates, "you take us by the throat, and, 
in your paroxysms of love, choke us to death." 

Lest his position should be misunderstood, and he 
be suspected of retaining a lingering hope of peace 
and union, he declared, with all emphasis, " I will 
never meet with you again." Judge Longstreet, as 
he was often familiarly called, was a man of ability 
and of influence, but sectional in all his views and 
purposes. 

The Rev. Thomas Crowder,- of Virginia, was a 
plain, earnest, religious man. He pleaded in behalf 
of the colored people. He insisted that the Southern 
men were the only true friends of the slaves, and that 



26o Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

while they were laboring for their salvation, the abo- 
litionists threw obstacles in their way. He appeared 
to be a good man, only partially comprehending the 
great issues which were before us. His zeal for the 
interests of the slave, as he understood them, brought 
him out in earnest speeches in the General Con- 
ference which had but little effect upon the final 
result. 

The Rev. Samuel Dunwoody was an old country- 
man, of Celtic origin. He made a long speech in 
defense of Bishop Andrew, in which he essayed a 
Scripture argument in behalf of human bondage, but 
produced more mirth than conviction. His homely 
eccentricities did something toward putting the body 
in good humor, but the great majority evidently 
deemed the time which he occupied wasted. 

The Rev. Robert Paine, D.D., now one of the 
bishops of the Southern Church, was regarded as a 
man of very high character and great influence, es- 
pecially in the State of Tennessee. . He went decid- 
edly, though without passion, with his section. In 
the General Conference of 1844 he was the chairman 
of the Committee of Nine, and reported what the 
Southern delegates at once named the Plan of Sep- 
aration. He followed his report with a speech, 
which was conciliatory in language, and dispassionate 
in manner. His explanation of the report, and the 
mode in which it would be acted upon by the South- 
ern Conferences, was in precise accordance with the 
views and intentions of the North. The plan was to 
be without effect until adopted by a constitutional 
majority of all the Annual Conferences. Secession 



General Conference of 1844. • 261 

was not a foregone conclusion. If it was ever inau- 
gurated it must be by the Annual Conferences. He 
declared that he loved and cherished the unity of the 
Church. The circumstances which threatened divis- 
ion were among the most painful events of his life. 
Nothing, he said, could exceed the depth of his feel- 
ings in regard to them but the pangs of conviction 
for sin when he was first awakened. This speech 
made a profound impression, and did much to recon- 
cile Northern members to the adoption of the report. 
His declarations were accepted in good faith, no one 
dreaming that the Southern delegates would inaugu- 
rate secession before they left for home. 

The Rev. George F. Pierce, D.D., of Georgia, now 
a bishop of the Church South, is the counterpart of 
his honored father, with a better elocution, more pol- 
ish, less caution, and perhaps less impressive in man- 
ner. He delivered a speech in the case of Bishop 
Andrew which was remarkable for the beauty of its 
imagery and the power of its eloquence, but which 
contained bitter passages denunciatory of New En- 
gland. He said : — 

" I prefer that all New England should secede, or 
be set off, and have her share of the Church prop- 
erty. I infinitely prefer that they should go rather 
than this General Conference should proceed to make 
this ruthless invasion upon the connectional unity and 
integrity of the Church. Let New England go, with 
all my heart. She has been for the last twenty years 
a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet 
us. Let her go, and joy go with her, for peace will 
stay behind. The Southern Church has nothing to 



262 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

fear, and she has nothing to ask on this subject. So 
far as we are concerned, sir, the greatest blessing 
that could befall us would be a division of this 
Union." 

This passage sufficiently characterizes the speaker. 
It defines his position, it is an exponent of his policy, 
and a specimen of his style. It shows his estimate 
of the land of the pilgrims ; the field where Jesse Lee 
toiled ; the birthplace of Fisk, Hedding, and Soule. 
It also reveals his views in regard to the national 
Union. Although the orator was almost too bitter 
to be courteous during this stormy Conference, yet 
there were moments of sunshine, in which he exhib- 
ited good humor, and even playfulness. He is one 
of the men of whom the ^outh has been proud, but 
whose counsels, nevertheless, history has already 
condemned. 

Thus I have briefly described the Southern men 
who were most prominent in the great movements 
of 1844. It is very possible, in those times of con- 
flict, when the North and the South found themselves 
in collision from which neither saw a way of escape 
— when prejudice was strong and passion not want- 
ing on either side — 'that those who came before the 
public eye did not always show their best side — moral, 
religious, or even mental. It is possible, too, that 
even when they did themselves no injustice, those 
on the other side of the controversy would naturally 
tend to severe judgments of them. Such, however, 
were my impressions at the time, and they are given 
as they were formed. 

Able speeches were made in favor of the proposed 



General Conference of 1844. 263 

action of the General Conference ; but I shall not at- 
tempt to trace the debate. Some of these speeches 
were exceedingly conciliatory, almost to the point of 
surrender; but the most of them were earnest, ex- 
plicit protests against the innovation of a slavehold- 
ing episcopacy. J. B. Finley and Peter Cartwright 
handled the subject in their blunt, merciless way, 
saying many things which grated upon Southern 
ears. John A. Collins, one of the readiest debaters 
of the body, pressed hard upon the offending bishop, 
and met, with the facts of history and the deductions 
of sound logic, the arguments and apologies of those 
who sought to justify his conduct. Dr. Durbin made 
a conclusive argument in favor of the contemplated 
action. Many others made speeches characterized 
by ability and by an appreciation of the difficulties 
of the case and of the magnitude of the interests 
involved. 

The great speech of the occasion, however, was 
delivered by Rev. Dr. Hamline, at that time editor 
of the Ladies' Repository. He brought forward all 
his resources of legal knowledge, logical acumen, and 
beautiful elocution, fearlessly meeting the pretended 
constitutional difficulty, and effectually disposing of 
it. The Southern speakers had rung the changes 
upon the alleged unconstitutionality of disfranchising 
a bishop without charges, specifications, 'and trial. 
Dr. Hamline argued that the General Conference has 
all power — legislative, judicial, and administrative — 
limited only by the Restrictive Rules of the Church ; 
and that, consequently, the office of a bishop may be 
taken from him for the time being, or permanently, if 



264 Life and- Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

he should by any means render himself incompetent 
to exercise its functions to the profit and edification of 
the Church, and that he may be thus suspended or re- 
moved by the General Conference without the charge 
of malfeasance. He treated the constitutional ques- 
tion more at length than any other speaker, but did 
not neglect to discuss the expediency of the measures 
proposed. The argument was so clear and conclu- 
sive that nothing was left to be desired, and the repu- 
tation of Dr. Hamline was established as a master 
of forensic eloquence. This speech had much to do 
with his election to the episcopacy, only a few days 
after its delivery. 



MetJiodist Quarterly Reveiw. 265 



CHAPTER XL 

1844-48, METHODIST QUARTERLY REVIEW. 

UNDER the provisions of the report of the 
Committee of Nine, as explained by Dr. Paine, 
the chairman of the Committee, there was to be no 
severing- of the Church unless the tendencies in that 
direction should pi^ove invincible ; and, even then, the 
measure was null and void until the constitutional 
majority of three fourths of all the members of all the 
Annual Conferences should favor it. In case of its 
ultimate adoption, the Churches on the border line 
between free and slave territory were to have the 
right to decide for themselves to which section they 
should belong. But, as we have seen, the Southern 
delegates, before they left New York, held a meeting 
and took action which assumed that separation was 
inevitable. Returning home, they proceeded to call 
public meetings for the purpose of explaining to the 
people the action of the General Conference, and 
evoking their judgment in the case. As might read- 
ily be inferred from the animus of the delegates them- 
selves, the Southern Conferences all went one way. 
.Delegates were elected to attend a General Conven- 
tion, which met in the city of Louisville in May, 
1845, and organized the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South. 

Along the border lay a broad belt of territory. 



266 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

where among the people all shades of opinion could 
be found, from extreme pro-slavery to ultra-abolition ; 
and when the individual societies came to vote on the 
question of their future ecclesiastical relations there 
was strife and collision. Dr. Bond, editor of the 
(New York) Advocate, was from Baltimore. He was 
deeply interested in the action of the Churches on 
the border, and from his nativity, his ability, his 
former services in behalf of the Church, and his per- 
sonal acquaintance with leading men, had great in- 
fluence in that section. He took ground against the 
constitutionality of the measures which were being 
pursued, and labored hard to persuade the people not 
to follow the preachers into the secession movement. 
He received communications daily from individual 
members of the Church, declaring their opposition 
to separation, and for a time he hoped that the proj- 
ect to divide the Church would fail. A fierce war 
of words was carried on between the Northern and 
Southern Methodist newspapers, and great agitation 
was engendered on both sides. 

Dr. Bascom issued a pamphlet of one hundred and 
sixty-five pages, characterized by the same kind of 
logic which marked his " Protest," but far exceeding 
that document in virulence. It professed to be a re- 
view of the reply to the " Protest." I was requested 
by Drs. Elliott and Durbin to prepare a reply to Dr. 
Bascom's review, which I did, in a pamphlet of one' 
hundred and thirty-nine pages, entitled " Slavery and 
the Episcopacy." Aside from this publication I took 
little part in the controversy. Bishop Hamline was 
anxious that I should go into the discussion in the 



On the Ocean. 267 

columns of our Church papers, and wrote me a letter 
on the subject ; but I saw no prospect of doing good 
sufficient to tempt me to launch upon the stormy sea 
of passion which was then raging. 

A number of the leading men, ministers and lay- 
men, of the Protestant Churches of various countries 
had been for some time discussing the project of a 
world's convention, to be composed of representatives 
of the various branches of the general Church, and 
to meet for the purpose of spending a few days in 
Christian communion. The meeting of this body, 
which assumed the name of the " Evangelical Alli- 
ance," was to be held in London in the month of 
August, 1846, and the Oneida and Black River Con- 
ferences elected me to represent them. 

On the 15 th of July I left my home, and the next 
day embarked at Boston on the steamer Britannia, 
of the Cunard line, our party consisting of President 
Emory and Professor Caldwell of Dickinson College, 
Dr. John Kennaday of Philadelphia, Dr. Roberts of 
Baltimore, the Rev. George Webber of Maine, and 
myself We had about one hundred passengers, of 
various nationalities. On the third day out we were 
approaching the rock-bound coast of Nova Scotia, 
and were enveloped in so dense a fog that nothing 
could be seen a few yards from the vessel. The cap- 
tain was evidently anxious, and the passengers began 
to be apprehensive. The engine was " slowed," and 
the lead thrown constantly ; but in spite of all precau- 
tions the ship struck heavily upon the rocks, first on 
the bow, and then, as we slid off that obstruction, 
amidships, and then, as we swung around, on the 



268 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

stern of the vessel. The scene was exciting. There 
were one hundred and seventy souls on board, and, in 
case of wreck, the small boats would hardly suffice to 
save even the women and children. Some of the 
ladies began to cry with terror, and could not be 
comforted. Dr. Emory produced his life-preserver, 
and proceeded to inflate it, his example being fol- 
lowed by many others. William Lloyd Garrison' 
stood in silent consternation in the midst of the con- 
fusion, and I noticed that he had under his arm a 
book which he had been diligently reading for the 
last three days — Sue's "Wandering Jew." Sundry 
profane, brandy-drinking gentlemen, whose faces 
usually bore the perennial blush which pertains to 
their habits, turned pale, notwithstanding the alco- 
hol. A little boy clapped his hands with glee, and 
exclaimed, " I always warCted to see a wreck ! " A 
schooner suddenly came out of the fog, and a voice 
hailed us. " Where are we .■' " shouted our officer. 
" Don't know," was the reply ; and the schooner 
vanished in the fog as suddenly as it came. A small 
boat was lowered, and by repeated soundings a way 
into deep water was discovered, and we once more 
got in motion. Night came on, a night of alarm and 
suspense. The steam pumps were in operation, in- 
dicating that the vessel had been damaged by the 
collision ; but the event was better than our fears, and 
at sunrise the next morning we entered the harbor of 
Halifax. 

It was the Sabbath, and our party went ashore and 
attended service in the Wesleyan Chapel. On our 
return to the ship we held a council in regard to the 



England. 269 

expediency of continuing our voyage. The port ad- 
miral had made an examination, and had found a part 
of the false keel gone, and discovered a large leak. 
Some repairs had been made, and we were notified 
that the vessel would sail the next morning. All de- 
cided to proceed except Doctors Roberts and Ken- 
naday, who determined to return home, and did so, 
and again came near being wrecked on their way. 
Early on Monday we steamed out of the harbor, and 
once more plunged into the fog, which enveloped us 
day and night till we passed the banks of Newfound- 
land. There was still room for anxiety. The ship 
was leaking badly, and the coal in the hold prevented 
the water from reaching the pumps, so we were told, 
and therefore quantities of coal were brought up and 
piled on the deck. Slowly steaming along, with 
speed diminishing daily, we reached Cape Clear, on 
the fifteenth day from Bostpn, and the next day ar- 
rived at Liverpool, grateful to God for bringing us 
safe to land after a succession of alarms and serious 
dangers. 

We were, of course, waited upon by the Custom- 
house officials, and our baggage closely exarnined, 
with the usual experiences. One of our passengers, 
a devotee of the weed, had a private store of segars 
laid up in a hat box. They were discovered, and a 
demand was made for the sum of two dollars and 
fifty cents due the British Government. " Hang your 
Government," said the wrathful Yankee. " Take the 
segars, and much good may they do you." A huge 
trunk belonging to an old Frenchman was turned up 
from the bottom, and its contents were scattered over 



270 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

the pavement in a style which was immeasurably 
provoking to 'the owner of the chattels. 

It was a gala day in Liverpool, Prince Albert vis- 
iting the city for the purpose of laying the foundation 
of a new dock, and the corner-stone of a Seaman's 
Home. We, however, were so occupied with the 
Custom-house business that we missed the sight, so 
we postponed exploration, and went to our lodgings. 
In the evening there was a splendid illumination. 
The next morning we looked at the town a little, 
and then took the train for Bristol, and passed 
through a beautiful agricultural region. On our ar- 
rival we engaged rooms at an hotel, and the same 
afternoon called upon the Rev. Dr. Robert Newton, 
who gave us a very cordial reception, and promised 
us an early introduction to the Wesleyan Conference, 
then in session at Bristol. 

This favor was not granted, however, until our 
names and standing had been announced, and also 
our relations to the subject of slavery duly explained. 
This being done, one of the members of the Confer- 
ence called upon us at the hofel, and conducted us to 
the place. We were invited to the platform, intro- 
duced to the president, and by him to the Conference, 
and then seated among the various dignitaries gath- 
ered there, ex-presidents, secretaries, and visitors of 
distinction. We found ourselves in the presence of 
a most talented and dignified body of ministers. 
They were generally ruddy, stout, healthy looking 
men, with a great deal of good nature exhibited in 
their words and manner, and no special lack of self- 
assertion. Dr. Bunting was the Nestor of the body, 



Wesley an Conference. ' 271 

a beautiful speaker, an able debater, always perti- 
nent, and always good-tempered and respectful. He 
watched the business carefully, spoke often, and his 
opinion was generally decisive. In person he was 
well formed, with a florid complexion, and was some- 
what inclined to corpulency. Dr. Bunting was at 
the head of the conservative party of the Conference, 
and thus had the great majority with him. Dr. 
Beaumont led the progressives. He was a very ready 
debater, and spoke often, not hesitating to engage 
Dr. Bunting whenever he judged that opposition was 
appropriate. 

The entire body consisted of, perhaps, three hun- 
dred members. The " Legal Hundred," who form in 
law the Wesleyan Conference, sat by themselves next 
to the platform. Those who took pa^l: in the discus- 
sions were few in number, the. great majority being 
content to listen and cheer. There was more dispo- 
sition to express approbation and disapproval in a noisy 
way than is common on our side of the Atlantic in 
similar assemblies. We listened to what was to us a 
novel thing — the reading of the appointments for the 
consideration of the Conference. The secretary read 
rapidly. When a member heard his name in con- 
nection with some arrangement which did not accord 
with his judgment or desires, he would start to his 
feet, exclaiming, " Stop there ! " The secretary would 
then pause, and the objector assign his reasons for 
opposing the appointment made, declaring, perhaps, 
that he was worthy of a better field of labor than the 
one named. Then followed a general debate, more 
or less protracted, in which the advantages of the 



272 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

circuit and the claims of the preacher were discussed 
with a plainness of speech, and sometimes an asper- 
ity, which, in an American Conference, would be re- 
garded with alarm as imperiling personal friendships 
and brotherly love. The debates were conducted in 
strict parliamentary form, and the speakers were ready 
and fluent, with no such hesitation and drawling as 
is sometimes represented as the prevailing English 
manner. 

None of our company was honored with an invi- • 
tation to preach on the Sabbath. This, however, 
must not be construed as indicating a lack of court- 
esy, inasmuch as the custom is to make the appoint- 
ments for the occasion months beforehand. We heard 
Mr. Stanley, Mr. Atherton, Mr. Rowland, and Dr. 
Beaumont. I vRls especially impressed with the ser- 
mon of the doctor. His eloquence was peculiar, 
characterized by somewhat extravagant figures and 
violent gestures, but at times overwhelming. We 
saw the old chapel built by Wesley. It is a very 
plain structure, with high galleries, and for seats, 
oaken benches without backs. A staircase leads 
from the pulpit to an opening in the ceiling, commu- 
nicating with a kitchen and bedroom up under the 
roof, where Wesley was accustomed to take his meals 
and sleep. We visited Clifton, and the Hot Wells, 
where Wesley once, went for an affection of the lungs ; 
we looked at Kingswood from a distance, and left 
Bristol for Ireland. 

On Friday, August 7, we embarked on the " Sham- 
rock," a clumsy and comfortless steamboat landed the 
next day at Kingston, and took the train Tor Dublin. 



Ireland. 273 

Having secured rooms at an hotel, we paid our re- 
spects to Mr. Grier, the pastor of the Abbey-street 
Society. We found the parsonage, like Wesley's 
rooms at Bristol, up in the roof of the chapel over 
the audience room, the way of approach being a nar- 
row staircase. 

Mr. Grier introduced us to the superintendent of 
the circuit, and on the Sabbath each of us preached 
morning and evening. We also attended service in 
'*St. Patrick's Cathedral ; and took tea, Sunday even- 
ing, in the tea-room of Centenary Chapel, with the 
official brethren of that Society. These Sunday 
" class teas," as they are styled, are a sort of social 
religious gathering. Prayer is offered, speeches are 
made, and every person present is expected to repeat 
a passage of Scripture. 

On Monday morning we were taken in charge by 
Mr. Carson, a very respectable member of the Wes- 
leyan Society, and made a round of sight-seeing. Our 
conveyance was that peculiar Irish institution, a jaunt- 
ing-car. We visited the Museum, the Bank, the old 
House of Lords, the University, the Castle, several 
old churches, and many other objects of interest. In 
the library of the University, which contains ninety 
thousand volumes and a multitude of curious man- 
uscripts, we examined the Codex Montfortii, a Greek 
manuscript copy of the New Testament of unknown 
age, which is one of the authorities referred to in the 
debates concerning the disputed passage in i John 
V, 7. We called upon Daniel O'Connell, and were 
very kindly received, although Mr. Carson, before we 
were invited into the study of the great " Liberator 
18 



274 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

of Ireland," was required to give assurance that we 
were not slaveholders. 

We found Mr. O'Connell clad in a green blouse and 
cap. He was frank and free in Conversation. We 
talked about American slavery, of course, and when we 
told him that, even in the Southern States, the major- 
ity of the white people owned no slaves, he was sur- 
prised, and asked with emphasis, " Do you say this 
of your own knowledge, or is it matter of report ? " 
Our interview closed with a touch of blarney all 
around, Mr. O'Connell assuring us that " he was 
very proud to be visited by such distinguished gen- 
tlemen from America." The same afternoon we 
looked in at a repeal meeting in Conciliation Hall, 
where we again saw him, with his son John, Smith 
O'Brien, Mr. Steele, and others. The next day we 
bade adieu to our friends in Dublin, where we had 
been entertained with generous hospitality, and di- 
rected our course toward Belfast. We made the 
journey from Drogheda by stage ; and riding on the 
outside, had a good view of the country. 

We saw a beautiful farming country, with a few 
splendid mansions, and a great number of cottages 
and shanties along the road. It was harvest-time, 
and many men and women were at work in the fields 
■ cutting the grain close to the ground with sickles. 
In Ireland, the good and the bad, the sublime and 
the ridiculous, never separate. Palaces and hovels 
form a part of every landscape. Splendidly dressed 
gentlemen and ladies, and the raggedest of paupers, 
are seen with the same glance of the eye ; and before 
the doors of fine churches, beggar women hold out 



Scotland. 275 

their hands, beseeching " your honor, for the love of 
God," to give them a penny for their poor childers. 

Arriving at Belfast we took a steamer for Scotland. 
A crowd of Irish laborers, men and women, perhaps 
two hundred in number, were our fellow-passengers, 
on their way to seek employment in the Scotch har- 
vest-fields. Night came on, with a drizzling rain, and 
this crowd had no rights anywhere except on deck, 
where they had no shelter or covering of any kind. 
But Irish humor is unquenchable. It was amusing 
to see the captain collect the fare. Not a few had no 
tickets, they had lost them, they said ; or, " Pat had 
taken it, jist, and they would be afther getting it for 
his honor, in a hurry.'' Landing at Androsson, we 
took the train for Glasgow. I looked to see what 
became of the Irish laborers. They also got on the 
train, but took the third-class cars, which were mere 
pens on wheels. They were as hilarious and noisy 
as ever. 

We spent only a few hours in Glasgow, visiting 
the Cathedral, the University, and the Necropolis, 
and then set off for Loch Lomond. A small steam- 
boat took us to Dumbarton, on the Clyde, whence we 
rode to the loch, four miles, in an omnibus drawn 
by three poor horses. Reaching the lake, we em- 
barked on the little steamboat. It was a rainy after- 
noon, but we spent most of the time on deck, admir- 
ing the wild and beautiful scenery. The loch is 
about twenty-four miles long, dotted with islands and 
surrounded by mountains, affording, as says Walter 
Scott, "one of the most surprising, beautiful, and 
sublime scenes in nature." On the western shore, 



276 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Ben Lomond, covered with verdure to its very sum- 
mit, rises with a gentle ascent to the height of three 
thousand feet above the sea. The humidity of the 
air is such that even the slopes of the rocks, where 
moss or mold can find lodgment, are beautiful with 
grass and ferns. 

We took rooms for the night at the little hotel at 
the head of the loch, and began the return voyage 
at five o'clock in the morning. After another brief 
stay in Glasgow we took the train for Edinburgh, 
where we found lodgings at the York House, a tem- 
perance inn. We visited Calton Hill, where several 
beautiful monuments are located. Ascending Nelson's 
monument, we had a splendid view of the city and its 
suburbs. We also ascended Salisbury Crag, resolved 
to see a sunset from Arthur's Seat, a rock on the 
summit. On the way two little urchins succeeded in 
fastening themselves upon us as guides. We stopped 
at St. Anthony's Well and drank some of the water, 
and glanced at the ruins of the old Monk's Chapel, 
hard by. The view from Arthur's Seat is magnifi- 
cent. A large tract of country is spread before the 
eye, embracing several towns and villages. The 
smoke of Dalkeith was visible on the south, and 
Sterling on the west. 

The next day we called on Alexander Hay, Esq. 
to whom we had letters of introduction from his son, 
a Wesleyan minister in Dublin. Mr. Hay was a 
mqmber of the city council, and, of course, had access 
to all the places of interest. We first visited Holy 
Rood, the old palace of Mary Queen of Scots. We 
saw. the queen's private room, her bed, and chairs, 



Scotland. 277 

and tables, Lord Darnley's boots and spurs, and what 
are said to be stains made by the blood of the mur- 
dered Rizzio, her secretary. We saw also the little 
handful of bones which Cromwell, in quest of mate- 
rial for bullets, turned out of their leaden coffins, and 
which are all that remains of the kings who reigned 
before the Commonwealth. 

The Castle is one of the wonders of the city. 
There we saw the crown-jewels of Scotland, which 
were long supposed to be lost. There was a tradition 
that they were somewhere in the Castle, inclosed 
in the masonry, but no thorough search had been 
made for them until Sir Walter Scott prevailed on 
George IV. to command an investigation. They 
were found walled into the tower, inclosed in a strong 
iron-bound oaken chest, which is exhibited to the 
curious. 

We visited the house which was once the residence 
of John Knox, and which bears on its corner an effigy 
of the sturdy Scotch reformer, with a Bible in his left 
hand, and the right extended, as if he were still thun- 
dering his denunciations against all who take away " the 
key of knowledge " from the people. After examin- 
ing various places of interest, among them Heriot's 
Hospital for Orphans, established two centuries ago, 
and still doing its benevolent work, the Council 
Chamber, and the Methodist Chapel, we took passage 
on the coach, and, after a beautiful ride, reached Mel- 
rose, and examined the ruins of the ancient Abbey 
by twilight. Enough of the structure is still stand- 
ing to show that it cost a vast amount of labor and 
skill, and to impress upon the memory a vision of 



278 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

beauty. A statue of St. Peter, on the ruined wall, 
stands amid the desolation, still clutching the keys, 
much as his "successor" at Rome stands among the 
ruins of his ecclesiastical empire, proclaiming his 
owninfallibility, and asserting his divine right to 
rule the nations which have revolted from him, never 
more to own his sway. 

The next morning we visited the ruins of Dry- 
burgh Abbey, which, like that of Melrosej dates back 
to the twelfth century, and was almost the equal of 
Melrose in beauty and grandeur. Here is the grave 
of Sir Walter Scott, surrounded by a railing, but 
without a monument of any kind. From his grave we 
went to Abbotsford, once his residence. When he 
took possession of the place it was simply a naked 
moor. It is now a beautiful park, showing every- 
where the results of industry arid refined taste. The 
house was built a part at a time, each addition in a 
different style of architecture, and contains relics of 
almost all ages and nations. His library was to us 
the greatest attraction. We seated ourselves in the 
chair which he was accustomed to occupy, and 
leaned upon the desk on which he wrote his famous 
works. The room contains many curious things : 
suits of ancient armor ; Rob Roy's gun, (which is a 
clumsy matchlock;) Sir Walter's suit of tweed, in 
which he used to ramble over his fields with his 
favorite dog ; also his spade, hoe, and pruning-knife. 
On his birthday, August 15, the same day on which 
his statue was set up with great ceremony in Edin- 
burgh, we were walking thoughtfully through the 
apartments in which he had dwelt, and examining 



Scotland. 279 

the rare and beautiful things which he had gathered. 
We left Abbotsford with increased admiration of the 
genius of Scott, but with regret that his splendid 
powers had not been devoted to still nobler themes, 
and left still more valuable memorials of his 
greatness. 

From Abbotsford we took the coach for New- 
castle-upon-Tyne. The day was rainy, and we had 
a very uncomfortable journey. The road, like all 
roads in England, Ireland, and Scotland, was very 
hard and smooth, and yet it led, for a considerable 
distance, over extensive moors — wild, uncultivated 
lands, kept in their present condition as the shooting 
grounds of the gentry to whose, estates they belong. 
This land, now devoted to a not very refined or hu- 
mane sport, would afford employment and food for 
thousands of the poor, over whose sufferings British 
philanthropy is -in a constant worry, but whose num- 
bers show no diminution. About half-past seven in 
the evening we reached Newcastle, wet and weary, 
and went to an inn. 

The next day was the Sabbath. In the morning 
we attended the Wesleyan Chapel, and heard a fair 
sermon. At the close of the service we went into the 
vestry, and inquired of the preacher where we would 
find Mr. Wesley's old chapel, which we visited. It 
was occupied as a Sunday-school room. In the aft- 
ernoon we heard a minister of the Church of England 
read a dry lecture in an old church, the pews of which 
had straight backs as high as the heads of the people 
who sat in them. 

On Monday morning we took the train for York. 



28o Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

By this time we had begun to understand the ways of 
the country. In America, when the traveler pays his 
regular bill at the desk of the hotel, he puts on his hat 
and gloves and departs in peace. In England, after the 
bill is paid, the traveler finds himself surrounded by 
a group of men and women, from five to ten in num- 
ber, the employes of the house, who come forward 
with their most captivating smirk and ask to be 
" remembered," by which dainty phrase they divulge 
the fact that they expect a fee of a shilling or two. 
The cook, the waiter, the chambermaid, the boot- 
black, the porter, all desire to be held in remem- 
brance, and seem to feel no humiliation in telling you 
so. The driver and the guard on the coach are also 
fearful that they will be " to dull forgetfulness a 
prey." To those not accustomed to it, these exac- 
tions seem a little meaner and more annoying than the 
outstretched hands and importunities of the street 
beggars. On this occasion we thought that we had 
squared accounts with the whole tribe, but when we 
rode to the next station the porter got on the box 
with the driver, took our one small trunk and three 
or four valises from the carriage, laid them on the 
platform, and again presented himself with out- 
stretched palm. 

At York we examined several objects of interest. 
The Minster is a fine specimen of the old Enghsh 
Cathedral. The old city wall, built by the Romans, 
is still standing. Leaving York we went on to Ches- 
terfield, where we stopped long enough to ride out to 
Chatsworth House, a splendid palace belonging to 
the Duke of Bedford, Here we saw many objects 



London. 281 

worthy of note ; among others, a green-house which is 
said to be the most magnificent in the world. Leav- 
ing Chesterfield we dined late in the day, and then 
took the train for London, which city we reached 
at five o'clock in the morning. At Mr. Randall's I 
found Mr. Willard Ives, from Watertown, New York, 
my fellow-repr6sentative from the Black River Con- 
ference ; also Rev. Dr. S. Olinand lady, and several 
other Americans. At ten o'clock the same morning 
a large committee met in Exeter Hall, consisting of 
delegates from every country represented in the 
movement of the Evangelical bodies. 

We were now in London, the largest and most 
important city in the world. It was founded before 
the Christian era. It now numbers two and a half 
millions of people, and in it are seen the men, the 
manners, costumes, and habits of all nations. I de- 
voted eight days to sight-seeing, but months would 
be none too much time for those who desire to see 
all. I was hospitably entertained during the session 
of the Alliance by Edward Corderoy, Esq., whose 
residence was on the Surrey side of the Thames, in 
Lambeth Terrace, near the palace of the Archbishop 
of Canterbury. Mr. Corderoy was a distinguished 
member of the Wesleyan Methodist Society. 
Thi-ough his agency I obtained access to public 
places under more favorable auspices than usually 
falls to strangers. We visited together the Bishop's 
Palace. Passing through the vast library, with its 
treasures of books and manuscripts, the picture gal- 
lery, where we saw the portraits of all the Archbish- 
ops of Canterbury, we ascended the tower and entered 



282 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

the Lollards' Prison. What a place, and what asso- 
ciations ! Here, by the authority of Rome, the fol- 
lowers of Wiclif were imprisoned for reading the 
word of God, and teaching the. doctrine of justifica- 
tion by faith. Here some of them died from the 
rigors of imprisonment, others were taken hence to 
the scaffold or the 'flame. The walls of the prison 
are lined with heavy oak plank ; and the massive door, 
studded thick with the heads of iron bolts, groaned 
on its hinges as we entered. The rings to which the 
prisoners were chained yet remain in their places ; 
and here and there, rudely carved upon the oaken 
walls, the blessed promises in which martyrs and 
confessors trusted in the hour of trial, such as these : 
" Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a 
crown of life ;" " He that endureth to the end shall 
be saved." 

We went up to the top of the tower for the sake of 
the view which it affords. The whole city was spread 
before our eyes, though the more distant parts were 
obscured by mist and smoke, from which the atmos- 
phere of London is scarcely ever free. 

" There," said my friend, " you see London to its 
utmost bouxids.'' 

"Yes," I replied, "and a magnificent spectacle it 
is. All it needs is an American sun to light it." 

" An American sun ! " responded he in a tone 
which showed that he was a little annoyed by my 
impromptu suggestion. " Nothing is worth seeing 
except in the light of an American sun." 

I, of course, disclaimed at once any intention to 
depreciate the English luminary. 



London. 283 

Several objects of great interest arrest the atten- 
tion as we survey London from the tower of Lam- 
beth Palace. The most prominent feature of the 
scene is St. Paul's Cathedral. It is of Grecian ar- 
chitecture, built, as were all the old cathedrals, in the 
form of a cross, and stands on somewhat elevated 
ground. Its length within the walls is 510 feet, the 
breadth 282 ; the interior circumference of the dome 
300, the height from the lower floor to the cross 340. 
It was commenced in 1675, and was completed in 
thirty-five years, at a cost of a million and a half of 
pounds sterling. The next most striking object is 
Westminster Abbey, a Gothic structure, which was 
begun by Henry III., but which was so extensive and 
elaborate in its plan that the portions first erected 
began to feel the tooth of time before others were 
completed. A part of the work, indeed, has been 
added in comparatively modern times. 

Westminster Abbey is full of the mementos of the 
past. The chapel of Henry VII. was to me the most 
interesting part of the edifice. It was built for a royal 
burial-place. Here are the graves of the English sov- 
ereigns, each tomb surmounted with an effigy, in a re- 
cumbent posture, carved in coarse stone, of the king 
or queen whose remains sleep below. Here are also 
the monuments of England's great men, her states- 
men, her generals, her philosophers. The south 
transept is called the Poets' Corner, and hef5 you 
see the sculptured names of Chaucer, Spenser, Shak- 
speare, Ben Jonson, Milton, Gray, Dryden, Thom- 
son, Goldsmith, and others. Here, too, is seen the 
throne used on the coronation days of the kings and 



284 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

queens of England. It is simply an old oaken chair, 
the back of which has a pointed top. Here is also 
shown a heavy oblong stone, said to be the throne 
on which the kings of Scotland were crowned. It 
was brought to England by Edward I. In the olden 
time of superstition it was believed to be the very 
stone on which Jacob's head lay, when he saw the 
wondrous vision. 

Buckingham Palace, the ordinary residence of the 
royal family, is in full view from our tower. We 
afterward took a little stroll about the royal habita- 
tion, and were impressed with the beauty of the 
grounds and the fussy officioiisness of their guard- 
ians. The English are pre-eminently a loyal, law- 
abiding people, with great respect for authority, and 
for all who wield it. The shadow which follows this 
luminous point in the national character is, that every 
petty functionary is morbidly pompous, anxious to 
show his authority, and never easy in his mind un- 
less he is bullying somebody. 

" Don't put your hand on that gate, sir ;" " Don't 
lean on that pillar, sir ;" " Keep away from the wall, 
sir ;" said one and another of them to us as we walked 
around. 

"Don't be alarmed," finally replied one of our 
party ; "we don't intend to break into the' palace." 

The Tower of London, a stronghold built by Will- 
iam the Conqueror, is well worthy of a prolonged ex- 
amination. It is not a single structure, such as its 
name would naturally suggest, but a series of build- 
ings devoted to various purposes, and surrounded by 
a wall and moat, the inclosed space being an area of 



London. 285 

twelve or thirteen acres. Within, we find a church, 
the Old Mint, the Horse Armory, the Jewel Office, 
and sundry other curious places. The Horse Ar- 
mory contains a series of figures clad each in the 
armor of the century which it represents, and 
mounted on horseback. Henry VHI., Queen Eliza- 
beth, and various other kings and queens, are repre- 
sented as they appeared on the field in grand reviews. 
In the Jewel Office, protected by an iron railing and 
a wire screen, are the imperial regalia worn on cor- 
onation days. Here is the crown which was placed 
upon the head of Victoria. It is said- to contain the 
most valuable diamond in the world. The value of 
the crown-jewels deposited in this office is estimated 
to be ten millions of dollars. 

We were shown the cell in which Sir Walter Ra- 
leigh was confined, and where he wrote his great 
" History of the World." Here is the block on 
which royal and noble offenders lost their heads, and 
the cruel axe with which the dreadful work was done. 
Two deep cuts in the wood show the force of the 
fatal blows. I looked at them and thought of Ann 
Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey, and 
others, and so many melancholy reflections thronged 
upon my mind that I was glad to turn away from the 
place. ' 

But it would require a volume to do justice to the 
various objects of interest spread before the traveler 
who visits London. We turn, therefore, to the Con- 
vention, which tempted us across the ocean. 

The Evangelical Alliance met in Freemason's 
Hall on the 19th of August, 1846. I thought it, 



286 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

morally, the grandest gathering of modern times. 
The entire number of delegates in attendance was 
nearly nine hundred. The United States sent sev- 
enty, of whom seventeen were ministers or members 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church. There were 
representative men, clerical and lay, of fifty different 
denominations, and from all parts of the world, as- 
sembled for the purpose of counseling together in 
regard to the cause of Christ, and strengthening the 
bonds which unite his followers. Great gravity and 
decorum characterized the assembly, and the devo- 
tional feeling predominated. The permanent chair- 
man elected was Sir Culling Eardley Smith, an Ox- 
ford scholar, an earnest Christian, and a man of 
excellent spirit, who presided with great propriety 
and urbanity. In mental grasp, and a knowledge 
of parliamentary usages, several other members of 
the Alliance excelled him. Among the distinguished 
men, Europeans, of the body were John Angell James, 
Dr. Wardlaw, the Hon. and Rev. Baptist W. Noel, 
Horace Binney, Howard Hinton, Edward Bicker- 
steth, Dr. Raffles, Dr. Bunting, and Adolph Monod. 
Among the Americans were Doctors S. H. Cox, 
Olin, Patton, De Witt, Dempster, Erskine Mason, 
and Edward N. Kirk. 

The doctrinal basis agreed upon contains nine arti- 
cles. One of these, which affirms the doctrine of the 
eternal punishment of the lost, occasioned consider- 
able discussion. The French and the Germans were 
willing to draw the line so as not to exclude the a'l- 
vocates of universal restoration, and a few of the 
English agreed with them. In defense of the article 



Evangelical Alliance. 287 

in question, Dr. Cox made a brilliant speech, which the 
chairman pronounced the grandest specimen of elo- 
quence which Freemason's Hall had ever witnessed. 

The subject of slavery called forth much discussion, 
and occasioned great anxiety. The English and the 
Scotch were in favor of excluding slaveholders from 
participation in the Convention. The Americans 
agreed that the subject of slavery ought not to be 
brought into the deliberations of the Alliance. Drs. 
Cox and Olin, Dr. Smyth, of Charleston, and Dr. 
Morse, "of " The New York Observer," took an active 
part in the debate. A compromise was finally 
efEected. 

Large portions of time .were spent in devotional 
exercises, in addresses on Christian experience, and 
the essential unity of all evangelical Churches. The 
speeches were extempore, always respectable, often 
brilliant, and of a most Catholic and brotherly spirit. 
They were grand exhibitions of intellect and heart. 
The style of delivery was e.asy, natural, with little to 
criticise. In regard to the conduct of the audience the 
European manner was in the ascendant ; applause 
was quite common, signs of disapprobation not un- 
known, and occasionally what Americans deemed 
confusion reigned for a brief period. When the 
chairman found things getting amiss, he would call 
out loudly, " Order ! order ! '•' If this did not suffice 
to restore order, he would demand, " Shall the Chair 
be sustained .' " Then would follow cries from all 
parts of the assembly, " Chair, Chair, Chair," and 
silence, a statement by the chairman of the state of 
the question, and then things would move on again. 



288 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

During the session of the AlHance, several public 
meetings, held in Exeter Hall, were attended by vast 
multitudes of people, and made a fine impression. 
The rounds of applause which sometimes rose were 
overwhelming. Some singular scenes were wit- 
nessed. The speakers were each assigned a certain 
number of minutes, generally twelve, but it was not 
always easy to keep them to the limit. One evening 
Chief-Justice Crampton, of Ireland, held on nearly 
half an hour, and the immense auditory began to 
murmur and stamp. Still the speaker held on, and 
the tokens of impatience grew more emphatic. See- 
ing the peril of the moment. Dr. RafHes rose, and 
with a stentorian voice cried out, " Hear him ! hear 
him ! He has fought the battles of Protestantism 
in Ireland ; let us hear him in England." Silence 
was restored, and the speaker had at least a patient 
hearing. On another occasion the venerable William 
Jay was present, and was invited to take part in the 
meeting, but his physical force was evidently abated ; 
he was tremulous and timid, and though importuned 
to speak, declined. The two Doctors Cox (of En- 
gland and America) were appointed to speak to- 
gether under the twelve-minute rule. The Amer- 
ican Cox, who came first, could not condense himself 
into so small a space, but occupied half an hour. As 
the speech progressed the other Cox became very 
uneasy, and at the close rose up and said, in a not 
very dignified or amiable manner, " My time has 
been used up ; I will not speak at all." The audience 
called upon him to " go on." He attempted to do 
so ; but had suffered himself to become irritated to 



Evangelical Alliance. 289 

such a degree that he was unfitted for the task, and 
so made a palpable failure. 

Liberal provisions were made for the foreign mem- 
bers of the Alliance. We were all entertained with 
warmest hospitality in Christian homes, and as some 
lodged at a distance from the place of meeting, a din- 
ner was served up daily for our accommodation in 
the grand saloon of the hall. These dinner hours 
were precious to us, in that they furnished opportu- 
nity for the cultivation of personal acquaintance. 
Now and then little passages at arms occurred which 
made all around hilarious. On one occasion a blow 
was given that hurt. The Rev. Tobias Spicer, of 
Troy, sat directly opposite an English Doctor of 
Divinity. There was wine on the table, and the 
Englishman helped himself to it quite liberally. As 
might be inferred, his potations did not increase his 
wisdom. Looking across at Father Spicer, he in- 
quired, in a rather peremptory manner, 

" Sir, what is the principal mark of difference be- 
tween Englishmen and the Americans .■■ " 

Mr. Spicer did not consider the conversational 
opening very promising, and tried to evade the ques- 
tion. His interlocutor, however, was so mentally 
unhinged by the alcohol that he had lost his sense 
of propriety. He demanded an answer to his 
question. 

" Well," said Mr. Spicer at last, " I think that you 
drink more wine than we do." 

"Sir," replied the Doctor, "Sir, you insult me. 

Do you say I have drunk too much .' I am not 

drunk, sir." 
19 



290 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

" I did not say that you were," responded the Amer- 
ican. At this juncture friends interfered, and the con- 
versation ended. The next day the two met at the 
door of the hall, and the Doctor, approaching Mr. 
Spicer, said, 

" Sir, my friends tell me that I owe you an apology 
for what occurred yesterday." 

" O, no ! " responded Mr. Spicer, blandly. " I un- 
derstand it. You were not exactly yourself, or you 
would not have said what you did." 

" Sir," replied the Doctor, in greater wrath than 
ever, " Sir, do you mean to say that I was intoxicated ! " 
Friends again interposed to bring an unpleasant 
scene to an end. This affair created a deal of amuse- 
ment, the English enjoying it as heartily as did the 
Americans. Mr. Corderoy, my generous host, heard 
the story from the Rev. William Arthur, and related 
it to me with great glee, begging me to take the first 
opportunity that occurred to point out Mr. Spicer to 
him. 

The Alliance sat thirteen days in great harmony, 
and I trust with great profit. The doctrinal basis was 
adopted in the evening session of the fifth day. The 
next day the following proposition came before us for 
consideration : — 

" That the members of this Alliance earnestly and 
affectionately recommend to each other, in their own 
conduct, and particularly in their own use of the press 
carefully to abstain from and put away all bitterness, 
and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, 
with all malice ; and in all things in which they may 
yet differ from each other, to be kind, tender-hearted, 



Evangelical Alliance. 291 

forbearing one another in love, forgiving one another, 
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven them, in 
every thing seeking to be followers of God, as dear 
children, and to walk in love, as Christ has also loved 
them." 

Possibly in consideration of my pertaining to the 
editorial fraternity I was appointed to speak on the 
resolution. I take the liberty of subjoining a part 
of the brief speech which I made in response to the 
call :— 

" It has been announced that persons engaged in 
the business of conducting the press have been chosen 
to speak on the resolution placed in my hands. I am 
not sure but that my American brethren have had 
something to do with my appointment to this duty. 
I have been drawn into various controversies in the 
course of my life, and very possibly it is thought ex- 
pedient to commit me fully to the principles of peace 
before I go home ; to bring me into circumstances 
which will compel me to promise to conduct myself 
hereafter according to the rules of Christian charity, 
the rules which bind this association together, and 
which, we trust, are ultimately to bind together the 
whole world. I am not averse to be brought to this 
issue. I should feel that I am unworthy to be placed 
in charge of a publication devoted to the interests of 
the Church of which I am a minister if I were not 
prepared to-day to pledge myself to the whole of this 
resolution. The religious press has much for which 
to answer. There is a record against it which must 
be put away by that repentance which brings amend- 
ment. It has given a thousand occasions for infidels 



292 Life and Times of Gf Peck, D.D. 

and enemies to taunt us with our disputes and the 
bitterness with which we conduct them ; .with our 
lack of Christian love as well as of unity in doctrine. 
No controversies have been conducted with more 
acerbity than the religious controversies of the past 
and the present age, and the religious press is re- 
sponsible for much of the evil. 

" It is high time that • charity, which is the bond 
of perfectness,' should pervade our religious periodic- 
als and books ; that the press should be sanctified, 
in order that our literature may partake of that spirit 
of union, of forbearance and Christian charity, with 
which we endeavor to imbue our sermons, our 
prayers, our private intercourse, all that we say, 
and air that we do in the. character and capacity of 
Christians. Let the press be imbued with the spirit 
of brotherly love which pervades this Conference and 
the work is done. That consummation which is so 
devoutly to be wished, and for which we have so de- 
voutly prayed, will have been accomplished. The 
Churches will be united, the world will be silenced, 
and God will be glorified. 

" I most heartily commit myself to the doctrine of 
this resolution. I pray that God, in his infinite 
mercy, may help all those who are engaged in the 
great work of informing the public mind, of dissemi- 
nating knowledge through the medium of the press, 
especially the religious press, that they may, in the 
spirit of Christ, be ready to sacrifice prejudice and 
curb passion, so that all which is offensive to the 
most sensitive Christian conscience may be put away 
forever from among us. With these observations 



London. 293 

and views, very imperfectly expressed, I leave the 
resolution in your hands." 

My friend Corderoy was a noble specimen of an 
Englishman — liberal in his opinions as well as in his 
projects for my gratification. My sojourn in his 
house was exceedingly pleasant He aided me much 
in my plans for visiting places of historic interest. 
Among the excursions arranged by him was one to 
Hampton Court, a famous old palace on the north 
side of the Thames, thirteen miles from London by 
land, and twice that distance by the river. The 
party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Corderoy and their 
two daughters ; the Rev. Mr. Crowther, his wife and 
two other ladies ; Dr. Corson, of New York, and 
myself. We went to the place by omnibus, and re- 
turned in a barge. Hampton Court was erected bj 
Cardinal Wolsey in the sixteenth century, and was 
at that time the finest palace in Europe. It was the 
favorite residence of William and Mary, who left 
there many evidences of their taste. The Cardinal's 
room is still exhibited. His name is seen in the 
colored glass of the windows, connected with mottoes 
or legends, which at once attract the attention of 
the curious. When we entered the palace we were 
told that copying any of these was prohibited, unless 
we first obtained permission from the authorities. 
Forgetting the rule, I was copying some words, when 
the fellow who admitted us at the entrance rushed 
up, with an immense show of authority, and demanded 
what I was doing. " I told you not to copy any 
thing," said he. I afterward found them published in 
full in the guide-book. The incident illustrates the 



294 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

insane love of authority which prompts every petty 
functionary in the land to worry every body within 
his reach. The picture-gallery is quite extensive, 
and contains many works of great merit. Many of 
the pictures were painted by the Dutch artist, Van- 
dyck, who came to England by the invitation of the 
Prince of Orange. The grounds now look somewhat 
neglected, but exhibit the fruits of the industry and 
good taste of bygone years. We saw a grape-vine 
seventy-eight years old, and covering twenty-two 
hundred square feet. There were upon it at the time 
thirteen hundred bunches of grapes, which we were 
informed, as usual, that we must not touch, not even 
the leaves. The fruit is a perquisite of the queen. 

On entering our little barge we partook of an ex- 
celletit collation, and then moved on down the river, 
admiring the beautiful scenery. Reaching Rich- 
mond, we landed, and made a brief visit to the Wes- 
leyan Theological Seminary. Dr. Farrar, who was 
then presiding over the institution, treated us with 
great courtesy, and showed us the buildings, and 
their various arrangements. At Richmond is also 
an ancient palace, in which Queen Elizabeth died. 
It is made additionally interesting by Walter Scott, 
in his " Heart of Mid-Lothian." We gave a passing 
glance at the palace, but had no time to examine it 
further. This excursion was one of the most pleas- 
ant events of my sojourn in London. 

Two other episodes of the Alliance are worthy of 
mention. Sir Culling Eardley Smith invited the 
foreign members to breakfast at his house. About 
forty were present, among them Americans, Germans, 



London. 295 

French, Irish, and others. Some of the most nota- 
ble members of the AlHance were there, Mr. Justice 
Crampton, the Earl of Roden, Chevalier Bunsen, 
Adolph Monod, and other celebrities. Breakfast was 
served at nine or ten o'clock, as is the fashion on 
such occasions, and at the close there were speeches, 
of course. Sir Culling stated that one object which 
he had in view in this gathering was to invite dis- 
cussion in regard to the propriety of forming an As- 
sociation in London for the protection of foreigners. 
Chevalier Bunsen and the Earl both spoke in re- 
sponse. I was fully as much interested in the 
speakers as in the subject. The Chevalier had a 
very decidedly German physique and manner, but 
spoke good English. The Earl was tall, and digni- 
fied in his bearing, but he lisped, and mumbled his 
words. Both were men of simple manners. 

The other pleasant event alluded to was a tea 
meeting, planned by Dr. Bunting, at the Wesleyan 
Mission House, in honor of the foreign Methodist 
members of the Alliance. The guests numbered 
about twenty. At the close came the inevitable 
speeches. Dr. Bunting complimented us all in a 
felicitous speech, and then thp Rev. Mr. Cook, 
Wesleyan missionary at Lausanne, the Rev. Mr. 
Toase, missionary at Paris, Drs. Olin, Dempster, 
and Peck, responded. The Missionary Secretaries, 
and all the leading men of the Mission House, were 
present. It was an exceedingly pleasant occasion. 

Several of the Americans had planned a little visit 
to the continent. Our company _ consisted of Dr. 
Emory, Professor Caldwell, Rev. J. B. Merwin, and 



296 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

myself. At eight o'clock in the evening of Septem- 
ber 1st we embarked on a clumsy steamboat at 
Brighton, and early the next morning found our- 
selves at Dieppe, France. We had very little bag- 
gage, but it gave us great trouble. The Custom- 
house officials seized upon every thing, however 
small, which happened to attract their attention. I 
had packed in a hat-box what I needed for a few 
days' touftr The ofScer looked at it, and said, " Cha- 
peau" and passed on. Not being familiar with the 
French language, I did not attempt to explain. Pro- 
fessor Caldwell had a small valise ; an officer laid hold 
of it, and the Professor resisted. This excited the 
suspicion of the official, and the result was a vigorous 
struggle, in which the American proved victorious. 

Having at length got through the ceremony of in- 
spection, we took passage in a diligence for Rouen. 
The scenery was strange to American eyes. There 
were no fences, and even the landmarks which divide 
the diminutive farms were invisible. There were 
flocks of sheep watched by shepherds and dogs, the 
shepherd usually sitting upon the ground while his 
sagacious canine assistant ran along the boundary 
line of the pasture and drove back every trespasser. 
Horses, wagons, carts, harness, every thing was dif- 
ferent from what we had been accustomed to, and 
every thing looked to us clumsy, and behind the age. 

At Rouen we dined, visited the cathedral and 
other interesting objects, and at six in the evening 
took the train for Paris, which city we reached at ten 
o'clock. After another babblement with Custom- 
house officials we reached the Hotel Bedford, which 



France. 297 

we made our home during the five days we spent in 
Paris. The next morning we secured a guide, one 
of the professionals who conduct travelers about the 
city, and began our round of sight-seeing, which we 
kept up during our stay. We took our breakfast at 
the hotel, and then set forth for a day's exploration, 
taking our other meals where it was most convenient, 
and returning at night more weary than " quarry 
slaves." Thus we visited Notre Dame, St. Roche, 
the Pantheon, Chamber of Deputies, Hotel des In- 
valides. Garden of Plants, Palais Royale, the Louvre, 
and many other places of interest, each of which is 
worthy of more space in description than can be 
devoted to all. 

Notre Dame, the metropolitan church, is an edi- 
fice of great splendor and architectural beauty. It is 
said that this church occupies the site of an old hea- 
then temple. A church was built here about the 
year. 375, in the reign of the Emperor Valentinian. 
The foundation of the present structure was laid in 
1 160 by Pope Alexander III., but three centuries 
elapsed before it was completed. The two splendid 
Gothic towers of this church are visible from every 
part of Paris. 

The Pantheon was at first the church of St. Gene- 
vieve, but it was desecrated by the authority of the 
National Assembly, and being made a burial place 
for the distinguished men of the nation, received the 
heathen name which it bears. The tomb of St. 
Genevieve, however, is still seen in a dark part of 
the basement, with a number of little tapers burning 
before it, stuck on the sharp points of the iron rail- 



298 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ing. Here are buried Voltaire, Mirabeau, and Rous- 
seau, three men who employed their genius to poison 
the mind of France, and lent their mighty influence 
to bring incalculable calamity upon her people. 

The Hotel des Invalides is a hospital for disabled 
soldiers, four or five thousand of whom find a home 
within its ample walls. In the chapel sleep the ashes 
of the great Napoleon. Here also are shown the 
crowns of Napoleon and Josephine, and a large num- 
ber of flags of other nations taken in battle. 

We made interesting excursions to Versailles and 
Fontainebleau. The former is about twelve miles 
from Paris. Louis XHI. first built a palace there, 
which his son Louis XIV. greatly improved and 
made his principal residence. Millions of money 
have been expended on the buildings and the 
grounds. The palace is now a grand museum of art. 
It is rich in specimens of the works of the great mas- 
ters. The vast halls and galleries, measuring an ag- 
gregate length of seven miles, are filled with pictures 
and statuary. The battle scenes and memorable con- 
claves of Napoleon I. are seen every-where, the fig- 
ures life-size. The parks and fountains are numerous 
and beautiful. The Great and the Little Trianon are 
two small palaces in the forest of Versailles, whither, 
in other days, kings and queens retreated from the 
cares of State and the laborious splendors of the 
Court, put on the dress of servants, cooks, and dairy- 
maids, and for the time tried to fancy themselves 
rustics. It was here that the unfortunate Louis XVI. 
and his queen were arrested, and carried to Paris in 
a common cart to perish beneath the guillotine. 



France. 299 

Fontainebleau, a town of eight or nine thousand 
inhabitants, is thirty-five miles south of Paris, is sur- 
rounded by forests, and is famous for its splendid 
palace. It was once the favorite residence of Napo- 
leon and Josephine, and still abounds in the baubles 
of royalty. Here, in the center of a fish pond, is a 
little summer-house, where the Emperor was accus- 
tomed to hold confidential consultations beyond the 
reach of listening ears. Pictures and statuary abound 
in the palace, and much of the furniture is said to be 
the same as in the times of Napoleon. Part of it 
belongs to an earlier date, and part has been added 
since the days of the empire. The bed of Louis 
Philippe is something of a curiosity. One side of it 
is composed of feaithers, the other is a hard plank, 
with a thin mattress upon it. The hard side was for 
his Majesty, who, it is said, learned to sleep on beds 
of that sort during his rambles in America. We saw 
a fac-simile of Napoleon's abdication, and the little 
table on which it was written. There are still shown 
marks upon the surface of the table which he is said 
to have made with his penknife in the agony of his 
emotions. After a day spent amid scenes like these, 
we returned to the city late in the evening weary 
enough. 

Leaving Paris we passed through Belgium, and 
came to Cologne, on the Rhine. Embarking on one 
of the steamboats which ply on that river, we spent 
the whole day among its famed scenery, its vine-clad 
slopes, its ancient castles, rich in historic associations 
as well as in natural grandeur and beauty. Late in 
the day we reached Mayence. Landing at this place 



300 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

we hastened on to Wiesbaden, where we spent the 
next day, which was the Sabbath. 

Sunday morning we attended service in the chapel 
of the English Legation. Some two hundred people, 
chiefly English travelers or invalids, were present. 
We dined at the Kursaal, one of the most magnifi- 
cent hotels in Europe. A band played during dinner, 
which was an elaborate affair, lasting two hours. 
When it was finished the people scattered, some 
going out to warlk in the garden, some hastening to 
the billiard room, others to the dancing hall, others 
still to the card-tables. On the colonnade the shops 
were open, and business and pleasure were pursued 
as at other times, except that there is more of gay- 
ety and dissipation on the Sabbath than any other 
day of the week. We had thus seen two Sundays 
on the continent, the first being spent in Paris. In 
neither case would we have suspected, from the de- 
meanor of the people, that we were in a Christian 
land, although churches were around us on every 
•side. 

On Monday, September 11th, we turned our faces 
westward again. Embarking on the Rhine, we spent 
the remainder of the day and all the succeeding night 
in sailing down the river. Reaching Rotterdam at 
sunrise, we spent the day in that city. We ascended 
the tower of the Cathedral, from which the greater 
part of Holland can be seen. The Hague, Delft, 
and Dort, were distinctly visible. The next day we 
took a steamer for London, passed through the North 
Sea into the Channel, and thence into the Thames. 
Landing at Blackwall we took the train for London, 



Home. 301 

where I was again cordially greeted by my friend 
Corderoy. Spending a day or two more in sight- 
seeing, we visited Greenwich, the British Museum, 
the Thames Tunnel, and other noted places. Bid- 
ding adieu to my generous friend, I went to Liver- 
pool, embarked for Boston, in due time entered its 
harbor, took the train for New York, and at nine 
o'clock in the evening of Saturday, October 3, reached 
my home. 



302 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 



CHAPTER XII. 

CASE OF JOHN N. MAFFITT. 

NOT long after my return home another import- 
ant, but not so pleasant, a duty was laid upon 
me. If I were sure that the matter is buried, no 
more to be heard of among men, it would be no self- 
denial for me to be silent. But more than one attempt 
at a resurrection has already been made, after consider- 
able periods of silence, and I therefore deem it right 
to put on record an outline of the facts in the case. 

John Newland Maffitt came from Ireland to Amer- 
ica in 1 8 19. Some years after he published an autobi- 
ography, in which he notes this fact thus : " From 
the romantic retreats of far-famed Erin, borne on the 
fickle winds of adverse fortune, a lonely stranger 
brings his mite of sorrow, and lays the dew-starred 
treasure at Columbia's feet." He was a tailor, and for a 
time worked at his trade in the city of New York. He 
first appeared as a preacher in New England, where 
his attractive manner drew multitudes to hear him. 
He found favor among the ministers as well as the 
people, and was admitted into the New England Con- 
ference. He became famous for his eloquence. His 
power over the human heart was wonderful, and his 
success in revivals almost without a parallel. Still, 
he was a creature of fancy, lacking prudence and 
weight of character. He had left in Ireland a wife 



Case of John N. Maffitt. 303- 

and several children, who heard of his fame, and fol- 
lowed him to this country. His wife was a shrewd, 
eccentric lady, who had no sympathy with the re- 
ligious labors in which he had won his popularity. 
Damaging rumors got into circulation, some growing 
out of alleged family feuds, others originating in his 
peculiar manners in the society of ladies. He pros- 
ecuted an editor for slander ; but the suit neither 
replenished his purse nor improved his reputation. 
He undertook the publication of a magazine in the 
city of New York, but was not successful in his 
venture. Becoming involved in some trouble in his 
conference relations, he finally located, and began 
the independent life of a general evangelist. 

Henceforth, Mr. Maffitt selected his own fields of 
pulpit labor, and fixed his own terms of compensation. 
He generally agreed to preach a specified number 
of sermons, in consideration of having the use of the 
church for public lectures, the proceeds of which 
were to be his own. On this plan he visited all the 
large cities from Boston to New Orleans, and gained 
unequaied celebrity. His lectures were not only 
well attended, but largely remunerative. He found 
many warm friends, both among the preachers and 
the people. His eccentricities and weaknesses did 
not escape notice, but they were borne with, in view 
of his apparent usefulness ; still scandalous stories 
began to float about. 

Mr. Maffitt came to New York in 1 846, and preached 
and lectured in several of the churches. At the close 
of his engagements in the city he went into the west- 
ern part of the State, to preach and lecture. Shortly 



334 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D 

after his departure, the family with whom he had 
boarded while preaching in the Madison-street 
Church communicated to their pastor, the Rev. Dr. 
Floy, certain details in regard to his conduct while 
an inmate of their house which had filled them with" 
astonishment and grief, and which they did not feel 
at liberty to conceal. Dr. Floy communicated these 
details to several confidential friends, who heard them 
with profoundest surprise and regret. As there was a 
rumor that Mr. Maffitt was about to return to the 
city to resume operations, Dr. Floy deemed it neces- 
sary to state in the Preachers' Meeting something of 
the charges made against him, and inquire what 
course ought to be pursued in reference to the mat- 
ter. The opinion was unanimously expressed that 
Mr. Maffitt should be informed of the scandal, and 
have an opportunity to meet it before he began his 
labors in the city. 

I was appointed one of a committee to confer with 
Mr. Maffitt, inform him of the allegations against him, 
and aid in securing a meeting of the parties, and, if 
possible, a settlement of the difficulty. This move- 
ment originated in no unfriendly feeling. All hoped 
that the alleged facts were capable of explanation ; 
that Mr. Maffitt, if not wholly able to justify himself, 
would at least show extenuating circumstances, and 
that confession and penitence would justify the Church 
in refraining from further proceedings. When Mr. 
Maffitt returned to the city, with the expectation of 
occupying the Norfolk-street Church, the pastor, Rev. 
Stephen Martindale, informed him of the reports, and 
of the action of the Preachers' Meeting. Mr. Maffitt 



Case of yohn N. Maffitt. 305 

professed to be ready to meet the parties referred to, 
and to defend himself against every imputation. A 
meeting was accordingly appointed at the Book 
Room. 

Mr. Maffitt and the gentleman at whose house the 
alleged misconduct occurred attended this meeting, 
and had some conversation ; but the females of the 
family, who were the direct witnesses in the case, were 
not present. Mr. Maffitt, however, was informed of 
the things alleged against him, some of which he 
denied, and for others he apologized. As no satis- 
factory result could be reached in the absence of the 
main witnesses, another meeting was appointed. At 
this second meeting all the witnesses were present, 
but Mr. Maffitt was absent. The committee exam- 
ined the witnesses, and made notes of their evidence. 
Mr. Maffitt, hearing of this procedure, called upon 
the witnesses, and first undertook to win them to 
silence by entreaties and flattery. He pleaded for 
mercy. He said that it would ruin him ; and he 
begged them, '"for God's sake," not to appear against 
him. Finding his blandishments vain, he became 
fearfully excited, and resorted to threats. He would 
prosecute them for slander ; he would blast their rep- 
utation ; he would make the thing cost them all that 
they were worth in the world. The family, however, 
were firm against threats as well as flattery, and the 
preachers, being satisfied that there were solid grounds 
for proceeding against him, requested Revs. G. Peck, 
D. Smith, and M. L. Scudder, to draw up charges 
and specifications, in accordance with the facts 

alleged against him. 
20 



3o6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Mr. Maffitt had become a member of the Norfolk- 
street Church, New York, by depositing with the 
pastor, the Rev. Mr. Martindale, his certificate of 
membership and official standing as local elder. 
Mr. Martindale was notified that on or before a cer- 
tain day named formal charges would be presented 
against Mr. Maffitt. On the specified day the charges 
were forwarded. The next day Mr. Martindale called 
at my office and informed me that Mr. Maffitt had 
gone West. He came to Mr. Martindale the day 
before the charges were presented, and stated that 
his business required him to be absent for some little 
time, but he would return and meet any charges 
which might be brought against him. To secure 
the objects of his visit at the West he said that he 
needed something of the nature of a certificate of 
character. Mr. Martindale gave him his old certifi- 
cate of membership, with the words " Correct, S. 
Martindale," indorsed upon it. Mr. Maffitt did not 
go West, but went to Brooklyn, and commenced 
preaching in the Centenary Church, of which the 
Rev. John C. Green was pastor. 

A copy of the charges was sent to Mr. Maffitt, 
who named a day for the trial. Mr. Martindale sum- 
moned five local preachers to try the case, and at the 
ajjpointed time the parties met. Mr. Martindale, as 
a preliminary to the proceedings, requested Mr. Maf- 
fitt to return the certificate of membership. Mr. 
Maffitt replied that the paper was in the hands of his 
other lawyer, but that he would certainly return it. 
This promise he repeated several times. Mr. Mar- 
tindale, however, was not willing to proceed until the 



Case of John N. Maffitt. 307 

paper was restored, and the trial was adjourned to 
another day of the same week. 

Instead of doing as he had promised, Mr. Maffitt 
sought admission to the Centenary Church on the 
strength of the old certificate by which he joined the 
Norfolk-street Church, and which he had again ob- 
tained on the plea that he needed something to vouch 
for him in his western tour. Mr. Green received this 
paper as a valid certificate, entered Mr. Maffitt's 
name on his Church record, and notified the com- 
plainants that he had selected a committee to try the 
case, before whom he cited them to appear, with their 
witnesses, on a certain day. The complainants at 
once notified Mr. Green that they did not recognize 
his jurisdiction in the case, Mr. Maffitt being a mem- 
ber of the Norfolk-street Church, and no other. Per- 
ceiving that the ends of justice were in danger of 
being frustrated by a contest in regard to jurisdic- 
tion, the complainants invoked the aid of the bishops. 

Bishop Hedding, who had presided at the last pre- 
ceding session of the Conference, and to whom, con- 
sequently, the supervision pertained, directed Mr. 
Green to stay proceedings until the question of juris- 
diction could be examined. Coming to the city for 
the purpose, the bishop conferred with Mr. Martin- 
dale, Mr. Green, and the complainants, and decided 
that Mr. Maffitt was legally a member of the Norfolk- 
street Church. He therefore directed Mr. Green to 
erase the name from his record, and Mr. Martindale 
to recognize Mr. Maffitt as a local elder in the Church 
of which he was pastor. Bishop Janes was present, 
agreed wholly in the decision of Bishop Hedding, 



3o8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

and affixed his signature to the paper which stated 
the results of the investigation. 

Mr. Maffitt and his friends took umbrage at these 
proceedings, maintaining that Bishop Hedding had 
no right to interfere, and consequently his decision 
was legally of no effect. Mr. Maffitt's lawyer drew 
up a paper, and sent a copy to Bishop Hedding, for- 
mally denying his authority to interpose in the case, 
and protesting against any decision which might 
affect Mr. Maffitt's membership in the Centenary 
Church. The Rev. Dr. P. P. Sandford, presiding 
elder of the New York District, as well as Mr. Mar- 
tindale, received notice forbidding the reception of 
any charges against Mr. Maffitt, or the utterance of 
any thing prejudicial to his character. 

Upon the receipt of the decision of Bishop Hed- 
ding the complainants again presented their charges 
against Mr. Maffitt, and Mr. Martindale again sum- 
moned the committee and the parties to appear on a 
stated day. When the time arrived Mr. Maffitt was 
not present, but his lawyer was in attendance, with 
several of Mr. Maffitt's friends, and placed in the 
hands of Mr. Martindale an elaborately written pro- 
test, declaring that Mr. Maffitt would never appear 
before him, or perform any act which could be con- 
strued as an acknowledgment of his jurisdiction. 
Mr. Martindale then dismissed the case, on the 
ground that the Discipline of the Church makes no 
provision for the trial of a local preacher in his ab- 
sence. I then gave notice that the charges would 
be carried up to the Quarterly Conference of the 
Norfolk-street Church. Mr. Maffitt's lawyer asked : 



Case of John N. Maffitt. 309 

" Dr. Peck, do you say that you will present charges 
against Mr. Maffitt to the Quarterly Conference of 
the Norfolk-street Church .? " 

I responded, " I do." 

" Then," said he, " it becomes my duty to serve on 
you this notice." 

The paper which he handed me, dated Brooklyn, 
February 12, 1847, and signed by John Newland 
Maffitt, notified the committee, jointly and severally, 
that if they presented charges against the said Maffitt 
before any body but the Rev. John C. Green, they 
would be held responsible " before any and all courts, 
j udicatories, civil, criminal, ecclesiastical, or in equity, 
known and recognized in the State of New York, or 
in the United States, or in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, to which he may have occasion to apply for 
redress." 

Notwithstanding this fulmination, we went before the 
next Quarterly Conference, which met in March, 1847, 
with our charges, specifications, and witnesses. Mr. 
Martindale presented the case by reading the decision 
of Bishop Hedding, and the communication from Mr. 
Maffitt. The Presiding Elder, Dr. Sandford, decided 
that a local preacher removing from the Church of 
which he has been a member without a disciplinary 
certificate, and denying his membership in that place, 
forfeits all rights and privileges in the Church to 
which he belonged. By this ruling Mr. Maffitt, by 
his own voluntary act, was clearly no longer a mem- 
ber of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The decis- 
ion of Dr. Sandford was carried up to the next An- 
nual Conference, in the form of an appeal, according 



310 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

to the provisions of the Discipline in such cases, 
and the presiding Bishop, Dr. Hamline, affirmed the 
decision of the Presiding Elder. Thus, so far as 
Church action is concerned, the case terminated. 

Meanwhile the matter got into the papers. An 
anonymous pamphlet, said to have been written by 
a member of .the bar, also assailed Bishop Hedding's 
decision as both illegal and oppressive, and it was 
deemed best to make public, by means of the press, 
a correct version of the case. It fell to my lot to 
prepare these statements, and I accordingly replied 
in the Advocate to the attacks made on Bishop Hed- 
ding's administration. When Dr. Sandford's ruling 
in the Quarterly Conference was made known, rumors 
calculated to mislead the public were set afloat in the 
daily journals and otherwise, and the complainants 
determined to publish the history of the case, but 
without giving the charges and . specifications, and 
without any expression of opinion in regard to the 
guilt or innocence of the accused. This paper is 
found in the Advocate of April 7, 1847. Mr. Maffitt 
was at that time in the south-west. On the 5 th of 
May his lawyer caused, a writ to be issued, under the 
authority of the Supreme Court, against G. Peck, D. 
Smith, and M. L. Scudder, the signers of the publi- 
cation named, and also against Dr. Bond and G. Coles, 
the editors of the Advocate. The offense was de- 
nominated slander, and the damages claimed were 
fifty thousand dollars. 

This prosecution was trumpeted as the forerun- 
ner of Mr. Maffitt's complete justification before the 
public, and the defeat and disgrace of his assailants. 



Case of John N. Maffitt. 311 

Proceedings were also had in Church law. When the 
Annual Conference met, the Rev. Mr. Green brought 
forward charges of falsehood against the complainants 
in the Maffitt case. The matter was introduced in 
open Conference, the church where the session was 
held being crowded in every part. I arose and re- 
quested that the trial immediately proceed. When 
Mr. Green came to explain his charge, it turned out 
to be this : In our history of the case, we stated that 
Bishop Hedding's decision of the point of law had 
been read on a certain occasion, and that " upon the 
reading of this decision in the presence of the parties 
the Rev. Mr. Green announced his purpose immedi- 
ately to erase Mr. Maffitt's name " from the records 
of the Centenary Church. Mr. Green alleged that 
the word " upon " implies that his announcement of 
his purpose was the next thi"ng done, that it took 
place immediately, whereas, as he affirmed, some min- 
utes intervened, and some conversation was had, be- 
fore he declared his intention. We brought forward 
one witness, and read from Webster's Dictionary the 
various meanings of the redoubtable word in which 
the falsehood lurked, and the Conference decided, by 
a unanimous vote, that the charge was not sustained. 
The complainants then presented charges against 
Mr. Green for allowing Mr. Maffitt to preach for 
weeks in the Centenary Church after he had for- 
feited his membership in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. We also charged him with giving Mr. 
Maffitt a certificate of good character after proceed- 
ings against him had been instituted. The Confer- 
ence devoted nearly two daily sessions to an examin- 



312 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ation of the case, and then decided that Mr. Green 
had been guilty of high imprudence, and a degree 
of moral dereliction. The penalty affixed to this con- 
duct was that he be suspended from his ministerial 
office for one year. 

The Rev. Benjamin Griffen was appointed to suc- 
ceed Mr. Green as pastor of _ Centenary Church, but 
before he reached his new charge the trustees and 
other official members met and resolved to declare 
themselves independent, reject the new pastor, and 
employ Mr. Green, who immediately notified his 
Presiding Elder that he had withdrawn from the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Griffen went to the 
church the next Sunday morning, but was met at the 
door by the trustees, who forbade his entrance. He 
secured a room for worship, where a part of the mem- 
bership of Centenary Church assembled with him, 
and service was maintained till the next Conference. 
The case was taken into the courts, where it was 
argued by able counsel on both sides, and decided 
against Mr. Green and his friends, who were at once 
ousted from church and parsonage. Judge Ed- 
monds, who presided, gave an elaborate opinion on 
the powers and rights of trustees, which he treats so 
intelligently and lucidly that his decision is of great 
and permanent value to all denominations. 

I have dwelt upon this affair at some length, not 
merely because of its singularity, but because in its 
progress great principles were involved, and legal re- 
sults of permanent value were reached. Mr. Maffitt's 
subsequent career was in sad contrast with his earlier 
ministerial life. He had been for years separated 



Case of John N. Maffitt. 313 

from his wife, and claimed that he had obtained a 
divorce from her in Missouri, on the ground of her 
having abandoned him and refused to return. He 
was quite attentive to the ladies, especially those 
who were young and handsome. He finally married 
a young lady of seventeen, who had been captivated 
by his eloquence while he was preaching in Brooklyn. 
The marriage took place in March, 1 847, and created 
almost a riot. A crowd collected about the house 
and made no little noise, but committed no violence. 
Soon after this event Mr. Maffitt's first wife died in 
Galveston, Texas, much respected and regretted. 

The second marriage proved unhappy, and the 
young wife left her husband, and returned to her 
parents. Finding the atmosphere of the East grow- 
ing cold around him, Mr. Maffitt went West. He 
every-where attempted to excite sympathy. He had 
instituted a suit for slander, as has been already stated, 
the defendants had filed their plea, which he was re- 
quired to answer in October, 1847. His attorneys 
procured an extension of twenty days, and then one 
extension after another, until seven or eight months 
passed. Meanwhile Mr. Maffitt was pretending to 
wail piteously, because his " persecutors " were de- 
laying the case. He had the effi-ontery to write 
thus to a friend at Pittsburgh : " The suit has been 
postponed by their reverences, for what reason I 
know not, unless it is to crucify me a little longer, 
and put me to more expense and trouble." ' His friends 
sought to enlist public sympathy in his favor, or at 
least delay public condemnation, by supplying certain 
newspapers with paragraphs bearing on the case, but 



314 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

generally false and grossly unjust to those who had 
deemed it their duty to arraign him. The time 
finally came when I thought that forbearance on our 
part could no longer be classed among the virtues, 
and I accordingly prepared a communication on 
" John N. Maffitt and his Sympathizers," which was 
published in the Advocate of February 23, 1848. 
Sydney Smith put away among his fugitive pieces a 
certain manuscript indorsed with the words, " I have 
always denied writing this paper." I signed my com- 
munication " Inquirer," but I never denied writing 
it. The article had the desired effect. 

The young and beautiful wife was seldom seen 
abroad after her separation from her husband. Every 
thing conspired to annoy and distress her. Her mar- 
riage to Mr. Maffitt and. subsequent separation were 
the subjects of universal discussion, and comments 
wise and unwise, flippant, coarse, and malignant, 
continually reached her ears. The journals which 
make a specialty of criminal news gloated over the 
case, and, anxious only to sell papers, dwelt upon it 
in endless repetition, with brutal disregard of the 
feelings of innocent sufferers. Mr. Maffitt, too, was 
guilty of the amazing folly and cruelty of seeking to 
defend himself by uttering insinuations against her 
character. Her health began to decline, and in No- 
vember, 1848, her unhappy life ended. Some time 
before her death her father came to me, and invited 
me to his house, where I had an interview with his 
daughter. It is needless, now,. to rehearse what she 
narrated to me in regard to the circumstances of her 
marriage, and her husband's conduct. It is sufficient 



Case of John N. Maffitt. 315 

to say that the facts stated had no tendency to lighten 
the shadows which hung around Mr. Maffitt, nor 
create in me any regret that I had consented to aid 
in calling him to an account. 

Mr. Maffitt went to Little Rock, Arkansas, where 
he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 
and was licensed to preach. His strange history 
terminated in the city of Mobile, in May, 1850. 
He had gone thither to preach and lecture, as was 
his wont. About the time of his arrival there, one 
of the Nejv York journals of crime had secured, 
how I know not, statements in regard to his conduct 
toward his wife, and copies, not only of the charges 
and specifications made against him, but also of a large 
number of letters which he unwittingly left behind, 
written to him by foolish and romantic girls. All 
this nauseous material was put into print, and papers 
containing it in full were sold in the streets of Mo- 
bile, and even around the doors where he was lectur- 
ing and preaching. His way was hedged up, and a 
few days afterward he died. 

I give this history after a thorough review of all 
the publications upon the subject, and the numerous 
letters connected with it which I have preserved, 
supplying deficiencies from the resources of a memory 
which, considering the painful interest which I had 
in the details, ought to be reliable. My aim has 
been, " nothing to extenuate, nor set down aught in 
malice." I have had from the beginning of the mat- 
ter till now no personal feelings to gratify nor per- 
sonal ends to serve ; but have sought only to secure 
the honor of God's Church and the interests of his 



3i6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

cause. Nor am I conscious of having been betrayed 
into any act of persecution or undue severity against 
the unhappy man. I have in my possession ample 
documentary evidence of the truth of the narrative 
which I have given, but trust that hereafter there 
will be no occasion for appealing to it. 

In the autumn of 1844 several brethren belonging 
to the Washington-street Church of Brooklyn, with a 
view to the organizing a new Church in that city, pur- 
chased a building in Pacific-street, which had been 
occupied for several years by a Presbyterian congrega- 
tion, who were now building a church in the vicinity, 
and who stipulated for a partial occupancy of the edifice 
till spring. I was invited to take charge of the Church 
till the next session of the Conference, and did so, at 
some personal sacrifice, and wholly without compensa- 
tion. I had, however, the satisfaction derived from a 
constantly increasing congregation and a growing 
general interest. A Sunday-school was formed, and 
class-meetings and prayer-meetings were regularly 
held, and the new enterprise prospered. 

At the close of the conference year a communi- 
cation was handed me from Thomas Kirk and others, 
the leading men of the little Society, " tendering their 
unfeigned thanks" for what they were pleased to 
call " unwearied and disinterested labors of love " 
among them, praying that " the blessing of that 
gracious Providence under whose guidance so happy 
a relationship had existed between us " might rest 
upon me ; and proposing that I should remove my 
residence to Brooklyn, and that my son, Luther W. 
Peck, be their pastor the ensuing conference year. 



Quarterly Review. 317 

I yielded to their request, and my son was received 
on trial in May, 1846, and appointed pastor of the 
Pacific-street Church. It was a very pleasant year. 
We had a fine congregation, good meetings, and 
conversions. At the close of the conference year 
I returned to New York. 

There was one member of this Church who is de- 
serving of special mention. Thomas Kirk was a 
native of Ireland. When he was a boy his parents 
entertained John Wesley. Mr. Kirk often men- 
tioned the fact that Mr. Wesley laid his hands on his 
head, and gave him his blessing. He was thus, as 
he playfully said, a Methodist in the regular succes- 
sion. He had been a member of the firm of East- 
burn, Kirk, & Co., printers and publishers of the olden 
time. Nicholas Murray, afterward the Rev. Dr. Mur- 
ray, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, then a printer's boy 
in the employ of the Harpers, boarded in the family 
of Mr. Kirk at the time he experienced religion.* 

Mr. Kirk was an ardent lover of good books, espe- 
cially of poetry, and would often quote long passages 
from his favorite authors, Bryant's " Thanatopsis," 
for instance, with literal accuracy. A genial, simple- 
hearted, pure-minded man ; a gentleman in person, 
manners, and all his tastes, a Christian in speech and 
action, he had the respect and confidence of all who 
knew him. His excellent wife was every way worthy 
of him, and the two, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, 
walked in all the commandments of the Lord blame- 
less. With him I canvassed our neighborhood for 

* This is doubtful. Dr. Murray was not only an apprentice of the 
Messrs. Harper, but was also a resident of the family. 



3i8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

funds to establish our hew enterprise, and saw how 
welcome he was every-where, and with what respect 
he was treated. On returning once to his quiet home 
after a day spent thus, and sitting down at the table, 
he remarked with seriousness, after some moments 
of silent thought, " I am really sorry for the rich. 
How much money they have to raise to meet their 
obligations. How many expenses they have. How 
much it costs them for equipage, and to keep up 
their chosen style of living." He lived to see the little 
edifice superseded by a beautiful and commodious 
stone church, and the handful of hearers become a 
thousand ; but he and his faithful wife are now both 
gone to their reward. 

I found the work of editing " The Quarterly Re- 
view" more easy and pleasant during my second 
term than it had been the first. The corps of writers 
which I had gathered was constantly increasing both 
in numbers and ability, and there was also a steady 
increase of the subscription list. The Review had 
gained some reputation abroad. We had sent a 
few copies to a house in London ; these were bought 
up and read ; and during my stay in England I found 
that many had become acquainted with the publica- 
tion. I was not a little pleased by being told that it 
was considered one of the best in the English lan- 
guage. It was gratifying to know that the first 
Quarterly Review established under Methodist au- 
spices had proved successful. I may add, that during 
the second term of my editorship the Review became 
self-supporting. 

The New York Conference again elected me in 



Quarterly Review. 319 

1848 to the General Conference. The session was 
held in Pittsburgh. The four years had been with- 
out precedent for stormy discussion and a spirit of 
revolution. During the whole period the Methodist 
papers, North and South, had been engaged in fierce 
controversies whose tendency was only to inflame 
and alienate. On the border,.as it was termed, the 
war of passion raged till charity wept, and what had 
been a united, prosperous Church, now presented the 
appearance of two hostile armies. This conflict was 
at its height when the General Conference met. 

The great problem which pressed upon the atten- 
tion of the Conference was the report presented by 
the Committee of Nine, and adopted by the General 
Conference of 1844, and the questions which grew 
out of that action. This report the South hastened 
to name the "Plan of Separation," but the measures 
which it proposed were wholly hypothetical. ' It was 
assumed that a separation was possible, perhaps prob- 
able, and the paper provided that in case of a seces- 
sion of the Southern Conferences, first, that the Con- 
ferences and Societies on the border should deter- 
mine by vote whether they would remain with the 
North, or go with the South ; secondly, that in the 
event of a secession, the proposition so to change the 
Restrictive Rules as to prepare the way for a division 
of the capital of the Book Rooms, should be submit- 
ted to the Annual Conferences. 

The Northern Conferences which held their ses- 
sions soon after the General Conference of 1844 
voted, with large majorities, for the change of the 
rule ; but the violence and passion of the advocates 



320 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

of separation, and the discovery of the fact that the 
Southern delegates, before they left New York at the 
close of the General Conference, had determined to 
sever the Church, and took measures to consummate 
their purpose, changed the current of Northern opin- 
ion. So many proofs of what was deemed bad faith 
on the part of the South were presented . that the 
idea began to prevail in the North that the provis- 
ional measure adopted partook of the character of a 
treaty, which had been violated by one of the parties, 
and, therefore, had ceased to be obligatory on the 
other ; and the aggregate vote of the Northern Con- 
ferences showed a large majority against the proposed 
change. 

In the organization of the General Conference of 
1848 a committee was appointed, consisting of one 
member from each Annual Conference, and called 
the Committee on the State of the Church. I was a 
member, and the chairman, of this committee. We 
held daily sessions, and in the discussions which en- 
sued upon the reports of our own sub-committees, 
and the resolutions which were offered, the whole 
ground of the difficulty between the North and the 
South, as well as their present relations, was exhaust- 
ively debated. The final report, which was adopted 
by the General Conference, abolished the action of 
1844, and thoroughly reviewed all the material facts 
upon which this action was based. No man, either 
of the North or the South, ignorant of the facts 
presented in this paper, can understand the merits 
of the case, or form a reliable judgment in regard to 
it. Thus the North and the South were left to shape 



General Conference of 1848. 321 

thoir course independently of the action of 1844. 
The Rev. Lovick Pierce, D.D., was present, and an- 
nounced himself as the representative of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, South, sent for the purpose 
of opening fraternal intercourse between the two 
bodies. He was not received, on the ground that 
the Church, South, had placed itself in a hostile atti- 
tude toward the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

The Commissioners of the Church, South, had 
made a demand on our Commissioners for a division 
of the capital of the Book Concern. Our Commis- 
sioners, Nathan Bangs, George Peck, and J. B. Fin- 
ley, replied that, as the Restrictive Rule had not 
been changed, they had no power to act in the prem- 
ises. The Southern Commissioners presented them- 
selves at the General Conference of 1848, and 
renewed the demand, receiving in substance the 
same answer. Dr. Bascom was the leading spirit of 
the Southern Commission. The venerable Bishop 
Soule came into the General Conference, leaning 
upon the arm of a friend, and took his seat in the 
body of the church. It was an affecting sight to see 
those two great men. Bishops Hedding and Soule, 
companions and friends from their youth, and for 
twenty years co-laborers in the responsible office of 
the episcopacy, now sitting in the same room, but 
separated by an impassabla barrier. 

The session of the General Conference of 1 848 was 
harmonious. The Rev. Abel Stevens was elected edi- 
tor of the (New York) Advocate, but declined to serve, 
and my old friend, the Rev. P. P. Sandford, arose and 

nominated me for the position, and I was elected. 
21 



322 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

1848-52, CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE AND JOURNAL. 

ON taking my position as editor of the Advo- 
cate, I resolved to close the old controversies, 
and make the paper minister, as far as possible, to 
the peace of the Church and the improvement of the 
tone of religious feeling among the people. To carry 
out this purpose was not altoge,ther easy. Sev- 
eral prominent men, my personal friends, had come 
into collision over the questions then agitating us, 
and looked to the columns of the Advocate as the 
proper battle-field in which to settle the points in 
controversy. Still I adhered to my resolve, and had 
the satisfaction of being abundantly sustained by the 
patrons of the paper. 

My pacific determinations were somewhat inter- 
rupted occasionally by the hostile attitude of the 
Southern press. The Church, South, claimed their 
proportionate share of the capital of the Book Con- 
cern, and G. Peck and N. Bangs were appointed 
Commissioners in charge of the business. Soon 
after the adjournment of. the General Conference of 
1848, Dr. Bascom issued another ponderous pam- 
phlet, entitled, "A Brief Appeal to Public Opinion, 
in a Series of Exceptions to the Course and Action 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, from 1844 to 
1 848, affecting the Rights and Interests of the Meth- 



Christian Advocate and youmal. 323 

odist Episcopal Church, South. By H. B. Bascom, 
A. L. P. Green, and C. B. Parsons, Southern Com- 
missioners for the Settlement of the Property Ques- 
tion between the two Churches." Into this document 
the author infused all the asperity and gall of which 
he was master. He charged the Methodist Episcopal 
Church with "perjury and subornation of perjury, in 
addition to the high moral blame of acting the part 
of bad and dangerous citizens." " Hence," continues 
Dr. Bascom, " the right and the duty of resistance on 
the part of the Southern Methodists. We believe a 
perverted, factitious conscience, and a wild, ungov- 
erned fanaticism, have fearfully led the party astray. 
The revelations of Heaven, and the Divine adjudica- 
tions of Christianity, are no longer heeded. Want of 
reverence for the word of God is, in our judgment, 
the great productive source of the evils we depict." 
Northern Methodists are also charged with "bad 
faith," and with " deception utterly irreconcilable 
with any virtue belonging to the Christian character." 
I was urged to make formal answer to this pam- 
phlet, but saw little prospect of effecting any good 
result. The " Brief Appeal " was written to " fire 
the Southern heart," and inspire hatred of the North ; 
and in the haughtiness of its style and the venom of 
its spirit it fairly equals the valedictory speeches of 
the southern members of Congress at the breaking 
out of the rebellion. I did, however, give in a brief 
editorial my views of the bad spirit of the Appeal, 
and the utter inconclusiveness of its reasoning, and 
thus brought upon my head the storm of southern 
wrath. 



324 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

The Book Agents and the Commissioners at New 
York had taken the best legal counsel which the 
country afforded in relation to their duties and 
powers. They- were advised that neither they, nor 
the General Conference, nor the Annual Confer- 
ences, could legally perform any act to alienate the 
Book Concern, or its proceeds, from the purposes 
specified in the Discipline, without rendering them- 
selves liable before the courts of the country. The 
funds being in the hands of the Agents of the Con- 
ferences as trustees, for charitable purposes, they 
could only hold it in trust, for these uses, under the 
regulations of the Discipline of the Church. The 
Commissioners, therefore,*could do nothing but await 
a legal decision before the appropriate tribunals. 

.The General Conference of 1848 had directed the 
Agents to take legal advice on the question whether 
they could submit the southern claim to a legal arbi- 
tration. In this action the Conference showed its 
desire to settle the question upon equitable princi- 
ples. Should arbitration be pronounced consistent 
with the law, then the proposal to arbitrate was to 
be submitted to a vote of the Annual Conferences. 
The Agents were advised by their counsel that they 
could not thus arbitrate the question, as that would 
imperil their trust. 

The Southern Commissioners commenced suits 
against the Commissioners and the Book Agents at 
New York and Cincinnati before the district courts 
of New York and Ohio. Our working counsel, E. 
L. Fancher, of New York, made answer to the dec- 
laration of the Southern Commissioners, and put in a 



Christian Advocate and journal. 325 

plea. The Hon. George Wood, of New York, and 
the Hon. Rufus Choate, of Boston, were employed to 
defend the case before the court. Preparations for 
the trial were immediately commenced. The lawyers 
had to be supplied with the materials for their argu- 
ment. Mr. Fancher, being a member of the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church, was well acquainted with the 
history of the controversy and the form of our eccle- 
siastical organization ; but Messrs. Wood and Choate 
knew little of either, and therefore needed full and 
accurate explanations in regard to our system and 
the pending questions. Mr. Fancher and myself ac- 
cordingly proceeded to Boston, where we had a long 
interview with Mr. Choate. We found him strangely 
ignorant of our ecclesiastical economy, seeming not 
to know whether it was a monarchy, an aristocracy, 
or a democracy ; whether the control was in the 
hands of the clergy or the people ; but his lack of 
information at the beginning was not more remarka- 
ble than the rapidity with which he gained a mastery 
of the whole subject. 

We also made a visit to the city of Washington, 
and had an interview with Mr. Ewing, the counsel of 
the Western Book Room. It is hardly possible for 
one who has never engaged in such matters to real- 
ize the laborious preparations which they involve. I 
spent weeks and even months of time in reading the 
journals and debates of the General Conference, and 
in examining the Conference records for materials. 

The separation of the Canada Conference from the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1828, had been re- 
ferred to by both parties. This made it necessary to 



326 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

place all the facts connected with that case in the 
hands of our counsel, and it fell to my lot to do the 
work. The Southern Conferences were just now wail- 
ing loudly over the injustice of the Northern Annual 
Conferences in voting against the change of the rule, 
and thus, as the South declared, clutching the prop- 
erty of the South, and depriving of their rights the 
superannuated preachers in that section, with their 
widows and orphans. Let it be remembered that 
although the Canada Conference separated from us 
in the most amicable manner, and for reasons the 
force of which was apparent, the Southern Confer- 
ences, each and all of them, voted against giving 
them any portion of the Church property, and thus 
prevented the Canada brethren from ever receiving 
any part of the common funds. Such is the influence 
of self-interest upon the reasoning processes of poor 
frail humanity. 

The case was tried in New York before Judges 
Nelson and Betts, and was decided in favor of the 
South. The case in Ohio was tried before Judge 
Leavitt, and decided in favor of the North. These 
conflicting decisions would necessarily bting the case 
before the Supreme Court at Washington, unless set- 
tled by the parties themselves. 

The Southern Methodist papers kept up a constant 
war against the North, and it became my duty to cor- 
rect some of their more glaring misrepresentations. 
Our collisions were sometimes unpleasant. The con- 
temptuous bearing of our assailants frequently fur- 
nished strong provocation, still I tried to avoid acri- 
mony. The asperity of the Southern press, both 



Christian Advocate and 'jFoumal. 327 

religious and secular, was aggravated by a revival of 
the antislavery controversy. The abrogation of the 
Missouri Compromise, and the passage of the Fugi- 
tive Slave Law, many of whose features were unjust 
and irritating, kindled anew the fires of controversy, 
and thoroughly aroused the North to a sense of the 
aggressive character of the slave power. Even the 
religious journals could not keep free from the agi- 
tation which pervaded the land. 

As editor of the (New York) Advocate, I was placed 
in a difficult position. I had always hated slavery, 
and now fully sympathized with the people of the free 
States in their opposition to the encroachments of 
the South. While I shared the public indignation 
against the slave hunters, I believed that only evil 
would result from my admitting into the columns of 
the paper the discussion of the Fugitive Slave Law 
and kindred topics. The principal part of the sub- 
scription list lay in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, and New York. On what was called 
the border, the Churches which refused to secede 
with the Southern Conferences were compelled to 
struggle for existence against the fierce onsets of 
their enemies, and if the Advocate should enter into 
the controversies of the times, its utterances would 
be wrested into weapons for the destruction of our 
friends. In addition to this, the supporter.'? of the 
paper were, as a body, apprehensive of coming evil. 
The hour was full of peril. There was danger, not 
that the nation would sink into slumber over a great 
wrong, but that the passions of men would hurl us 
into some great gulf of disaster. So far as our pa- 



328 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

trons were concerned, I well understood the situa- 
tion. My correspondence from all parts of the coun- 
try was voluminous, and I knew that I could at any 
time write an editorial of half a column which would 
not only wreck the Advocate, but intensify an agita- 
tion which was already sufficiently dangerous to the 
national peace. Thus, notwithstanding the clamor 
in some quarters in regard to my " cowardice " and 
"non-committalism," I steadily refused to te forced 
into measures, the results of which, so far as I could 
foresee, would be " only evil continually." 

I had opinions upon public measures, and was free 
to express them on proper occasions, but as editor of 
an official journal I felt that I must not take any 
course which would deprive me of access to those 
whom I was addressing, and make the paper a finan- 
cial burden upon the Church, unless I saw in the 
new measures proposed for me a promise of at least 
sufficient good to compensate for the evil. I took 
my position deliberately, knowing well what it would 
cost. The radical prints misrepresented me, charg- 
ing me with favoring slavery and the Fugitive Slave 
Law. Many of my old friends in the Genesee, Black 
River, and Oneida Conferences, led by the " Northern 
Christian Advocate," then edited by the Rev. William 
Hosmer, gave me up for lost. The most senseless 
thing of all, and one which aroused my indignation, 
was, that on the border some of the very men for 
whom I had faced this storm of obloquy and labored 
so hard, set it down against me that I had lost my 
friends in the North. 

I managed the Advocate through the four years' 



Christian Advocate and Journal. 329 

term, my only assistant in the office being Stephen 
B. Wickens. All the editorials were written by me 
except one, and that one I felt constrained to repu- 
diate the next week. I was sometimes absent from 
the city attending the Confefences, but in such cases 
always furnished a letter to fill the place of " leader." 
In the instance referred to I was absent a week, oc- 
cupied with business which left no time for editorials, 
and so I engaged a friend to write one for me, select- 
ing his own subject. It was soon after the invasion 
of Cuba by Lopez, and my editorial substitute had an 
intimate friend who took part in the raid. This 
friend he seized the occasion to eulogize in the Ad- 
vocate, and grew so enthusiastic over his labor of 
love, that he seemed ready to indorse the fillibusters 
and their doings in general. The readers of the 
paper opened their eyes in astonishment at the bel- 
ligerent attitude of the editor, and I deemed it expe- 
dient at once to explain the matter. 

On the 30th of September, 1848, my honored fa- 
ther died. He united with the Methodist Episcopal 
Church in 1804, and maintained an unblemished 
Christian character for forty-four years. He was a 
man of solid judgment ; stable, industrious, exe.mpla- 
ry, universally respected, and exerting great influence 
in the community where he lived. He was useful in 
the Church. For years he was leader of the class at 
Middlefield Center, and afterward at Hamilton. Liv- 
ing in the country and on large circuits, where the 
preachers visited each little appointment only once 
in two or three weeks, he usually held class-meeting 
and prayer-meeting on the Sabbath. He was a fine 



330 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

singer, a perfect master of the old melodies of Meth- 
odism, and his gift of holy song made the services 
which he conducted attractive, and increased their 
power for good. His meetings were attended by the 
unconverted, and often crowned with revivals, so that 
when the preacher came he found numbers of con- 
verts who had thus been led to Christ, and were 
waiting to be received into the Church. In the ab- 
sence of the preachers he was often called to attend 
funerals, where his simple service of hymn and prayer 
was very acceptable. By industry and economy he 
maintained his large family, and lived to see his five 
sons in the ministry, his six-daughters members of 
the Church, and all his children, except the two who 
died in their youth, comfortably settled in life. He 
departed in great peace in the eightyTsecond year of 
his age, and his remains rest in the burying-ground 
at Hamilton, with those of his daughters Elizabeth 
and Mary, and my Uncle Isaac Collar. 

During the latter part of my four years the discus- 
sion on the subject of lay representation in the Gen- 
eral Conference was revived. A convention was held 
in Philadelphia, composed of laymen from different 
parts of the Church, and created considerable excite- 
ment. The measure had, even at that date, a very 
respectable body of friends ; but, like many other 
causes, had some imprudent advocates, arid 'here 
was a diversity of opinion among our wisest men,, 
both lay and clerical. I admitted but little into the 
Advocate on the subject, but being assailed as an 
opponent of the principle, made some little defense, 
and let the matter pass. As the session of the Gen- 



Christian Advocate and J^oumal. 331 

era] Conference drew near, Dr. Bond, who had been 
silent for four years, not writing a line for the paper, 
came out with two strong articles against lay repre- 
sentation, which I published in the Advocate. These 
communications made considerable impression, and, 
while they did not change the final result of the dis- 
cussion, revived the partialities of the border Confer- 
ences in favor of their author. 

At the session of the New York Conference in 1852, 
I was again elected a delegate to the General Con- 
ference, having become a member of the New York 
Conference in 1840 by virtue of the rule which made 
Editors and Agents at New York members of that 
body. I had been thus elected three times in suc- 
cession, and this last time by the highest number of 
votes. This I had a right to consider especially com- 
plimentary and indicative of confidence, and it was the 
more grateful to me seeing that I had been engaged 
in controversies sufficient to create opposition. 

Just before the session of the General Conference 
the venerable Bishop Hedding, my fast friend, and, 
take him all in all, one of the greatest men of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, was called to his reward. 
Several times during his last illness I visited him, 
and found him rapidly maturing for immortality. 
Only a few days before his death I went to iaugh- 
keepsie, in company with Bishop Janes, and had 
what proved to be our last interview. I described 
that final interview in the Advocate, and the de- 
scription will be found in the "Life and Times of 
Bishop Hedding," by Bishop Clark ; but I could not 
then, I cannot now, adequately delineate the emotions 



332 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

of admiration, of veneration, of awe, and devout grati- 
tude which the visit inspired. We remained nearly 
two days, and thus enjoyed the fullest opportunity of 
conversing with him. From the beginning to the 
end of the period named all his expressions were in 
the same vein — love for God and his Church, warm 
attachment to old friends, patience under the severest 
sufferings, complete, triumph in his mental conflicts, 
bright anticipations of heaven. Hope, joy, and peace 
were apparent in his countenance, his words, his hap- 
py tears, and there seemed to be almost a halo of 
glory about the scene. The place seemed indeed 
"quite on the verge of heaven." On the 12th of 
April, 1852, in company with a large number of min- 
isters, among whom were Bishops Waugh and Janes, 
Dr. Bangs, the venerable William Thacher, and Mar- 
vin Richardson, I attended his funeral as a pall- 
bearer, and saw the remains of this saint of God and 
prince of our Israel consigned to their last repose. 

The General Conference of 1852 held its session 
in Boston. It had never before met in New England. 
In addition to the usual business of the body, there 
were several matters which had a spice of novelty. 
Among the rest was an appeal case from the Ohio 
Conference. A church had been erected in Cincin- 
nati, and the pews made the private property, sever- 
ally, of those who united in the enterprise. This was 
contrary to our prevailing customs. The pastor was 
understood to favor the peculiar arrangement, and for 
this offense was arraigned by his Conference on a 
charge of "disorderly conduct," tried, and found 
guilty. He appealed to the General Conference, and 



Christian Advocate and Journal. 333 

under this appeal the whole subject of the renting 
and the owning of pews was debated. The discus- 
sion was earnest and prolonged, and terminated in 
action which left the question whether pews should 
be free or otherwise to be decided by each Society 
as local circumstances should render the one plan or 
the other expedient. 

A committee, of which I was ■ chairman, was ap- 
pointed to consider the subject of slavery. In due 
time we presented a report, which was left to sleep 
on the table, there being little apparent disposition 
to discuss the subject. 

A deputation from the Lay Convention of Philadel- 
phia presented a memorial from that body to the Gen- 
eral Conference: A large committee was appointed, 
before whom the deputation appeared, and were heard 
at length, after which a sort of half-and-half report 
on the subject was presented to the Conference, and 
adopted, closing with the declaration that lay delega- 
tion was inexpedient. 

In the great lawsuit between the North and the 
South, the Supreme Court for the District of New 
York had given a decision in favor of the South, and 
had recommended an amicable division of the prop- 
erty without any further litigation. The Book Agents 
at New York reported to the General Conference of 
1852 that, in according with the instructions given 
them in 1848, they had taken legal advice upon the 
question whether they could submit the claims of the 
Southern body to a voluntary arbitration, and had 
been advised that they had no legal power to do it. 
The Bishops, acting on the conclusions of 1848, 



334 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

proceeded to lay the matter before the Annual Con- 
ferences, but before they had gone far the South com- 
menced the suit, with the result already stated. The 
question, as it presented itself in 1852, was whether 
the General' Conference would still look to the civil 
law, or seek an amicable adjustment of the matters 
in dispute. After much consideration the General 
Conference appointed a Board of Commissioners, to 
whom the whole business was referred, with power 
to settle it as justice and the interests of the Church 
required. The Commissioners were the Book Agents 
at New York, George Peck, John Davis, and John S. 
Porter. 

Levi Scott, Osmon C. Baker, Matthew Simpson, 
and Edward R. Ames, were elected bishops. Dr. 
Bond was elected editor of the Advocate. He died 
in the fourth year of his official term. 

The city authorities of Boston treated the General 
Conference with great courtesy, giving the members 
access to all the public institutions, and inviting 
them to a steamboat excursion. The attentions be- 
stowed upon us seemed to surprise somewhat the 
more southern and western men, who had been 
taught to regard the New Englanders as stoical, and 
not over ceremonious. The session of 1852 was 
short and pleasant. In addition to my duties as one 
of the Commissioners having charge of the business 
connected with the Book Room suits, I was appoint- 
ed a member of the Book Committee. . 



Wilkes barre. 335 



CHAPTER XIV. 

1852-3, WILKKSBARRE 1854, WYOMING DISTRICT 

1855, BINGHAMTON DISTRICT 1856-7, SCRANTON. 

I NOW returned to the regular work of the min- 
istry. The General Conference of 1852 divided 
the Oneida Conference, and constituted the south- 
ern portion of it, lying chiefly in Pennsylvania, a new 
Conference, giving it the classic name of Wyoming. 
My home, so far as an itinerant may be said to pos- 
sess a permanent earthly home, was in the famous 
valley. Some of my earliest friends in the ministry 
were members of the new Conference ; many of my 
old friends among the laity lived in its territory, and 
I hardly needed the repeated assurances which I re- 
ceived that a hearty welcome awaited me. At my 
request I was transferred to the Wyoming Confer- 
ence. The time intervening between the adjourn- 
ment of the General Conference and the session of 
the Wyoming Conference I spent at Kingston. 

The Wyoming Conference began its first session 
on the 7th of July, 1852, Bishop Scott presiding. . 

The first duty which devolved upon me was to act 
as counsel for the Church in trying a member of the 
Conference on the charge of heresy, he having adopted 
all the follies of what is called Spiritualism, and dis- 
seminated them in his sermons and by the press. 
He was found guilty, and by a vote of the Conference 



336 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

was deprived of his ministerial office. He fixed his 
residence at Kingston, and continued to preach where 
ever he got a chance, and even married those who 
applied to him under the impression that he still had 
authority to perform the ceremony. Being still a 
member of the Church he was arraigned for disobe- 
dience to the orders of the Church, and was deprived 
of his membership. He then went to Carbondale 
and continued his operations, gathering a little hand- 
ful of followers. The "spirits " communicated with 
him very freely, and finally informed him, in a confi- 
dential way, not to be divulged except in certain 
cases, that so far as he was concerned the seventh 
commandment had been repealed. He soon came 
to the conclusion that he had better leave Carbon- 
dale. He next went to New York, where he ingrati- 
ated himself into the favor of a prominent Baptist 
clergyman, joined that Church, was duly immersed, 
received license to preach, and went West, where he 
was operating when I last heard from him, his de- 
liverances being chiefly notable on account of their 
assaults ^n the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

I was appointed pastor of the Franklin-street 
Church, Wilkesbarre, which was then the only Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church in that town. I was ap- 
pointed to preach twice every Sabbath in Wilkes- 
barre, and once in two weeks in the afternoon at 
the Plains, which was then included in the pastoral 
charge. 

The first time I entered the pulpit after my ap- 
pointment I was attacked with ague, and passed 
from the chilly stage to fever while proceeding with 



Wilkesharre. 337 

my discourse. -This was the beginning of an illness 
wiiich lasted for weeks, and brought me to the verge 
of death. My mind was for some time in a dreamy 
state. For days all seemed to be dark around me. 
Strange visions passed before my mind, some of which 
made so vivid an impression that I still recollect 
them. Now and then came a lucid interval, during 
which I had much communion with God in prayer. 
One evening I heard the physician say, " By to- 
morrow morning I shall be able to tell how it will go 
with him." That night I seemed to be in a land of 
shadows. My life was trembling in the balance. I 
had no gloomy forebodings. My heart from its very 
depths said, "I am the Lord's, his will be done." 
In case the verdict of the physician in the morning 
was adverse, I determined to call my family around 
me and utter my last words to them. In all this I 
felt calm and peaceful, leaving all things with God. 

When morning came, and the physician entered 
the room, he glanced at me, and exclaimed, in a kind 
of rapture, " Better, better, better ! " From this time 
I slowly but steadily recovered. Almost the first 
piece of intelligence which greeted my recovery was 
the sad news of the death of my dear friend, the Rev. 
Bartholomew Creagh, who died of the very disease 
which had prostrated me so long. Two more of my 
valued friends soon followed, the Revs. William K. 
Stopford and Daniel Smith. They were all good 
men and true. With them I had often taken sweet 
counsel, occupied their pulpits, aided them in revival 
services, and sat with them at their firesides. " The 
memory of the just is blessed." 
22 



338 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

After an absence of one month from my pulpit I 
again began to preach to my people, though still 
weak, and able to do little. In September I attended 
a camp-meeting held on the grounds of Mr. Heft, 
west of Kingston Mountain. Many souls were con- 
verted, and many believers were built up in their holy 
faith. I had not yet recovered my full strength, but 
the beautiful scenery, the pure mountain air, and, 
above all, the success which crowned the preaching 
of the word, were better to me than medicine. I 
preached several times, and returned home with new 
strength and courage for my pastoral work. 

I greatly enjoyed my return to the work of the 
ministry. Studying God's word, preaching Christ 
and him crucified, conducting prayer-meetings, visit- 
ing the Sabbath-school, visiting my people, con- 
stituted my entire business, and were the delight 
of my soul. During the twelve years of my editorial 
life I had almost forgotten what it is to feel myself 
a free man. Now, no more editorials, no more insa- 
tiate demands for " copy," no more conflicts with as- 
sailants without, " wiser than seven men that can 
render a reason ;" no more collisions over public mat- 
ters with friends, wise or otherwise ; no more weary 
hours spent in the drudgery of a newspaper office. I 
was free. 

The congregation increased in numbers and inter- 
est. On New-Years day we began a protracted 
meeting which continued three months. For two 
weeks there was no movement among the uncon- 
verted. The first one who presented himself as a 
penitent was a young man who is now a member of 



Wilkesbarre. 339 

the Oregon Conference. About one hundred were 
converted. Some of *^^he converts belonged to fami- 
lies connected with other branches of the Church of 
Christ, and united with the Churches of which their 
parents were members. Still, not only was the mem- 
bership of my own charge greatly and permanently 
strengthened, but also the spiritual life of the whole 
body was visibly quickened. 

But there are shadows even upon the path of the 
pastor whose business is with high and holy things, 
and there are painful scenes upon which he must look. 
A boy of only sixteen years of age committed a delib- 
erate murder in our vicinity. His object was money. 
He was well acquainted -with his victim, whom he 
decoyed into a field, shot him with a pistol, and rob- 
bed the body. The bloody deed was traced to its 
author, and he paid the penalty of his crime. I visit- 
ed him several times before his trial. He seemed 
pleased to have me come to see him, but appeared 
very hard. After his sentence he began to relent, 
and finally made full confession, with the condition 
that it should not be published till after his execu- 
tion. He became penitent, and gave such evidence 
of sorrow for his crime that I baptized him, and ad- 
ministered to him the Lord's Supper, and he died, 
earnestly praying for mercy, on the ninth of Septem- 
ber, 1853. 

One painful scene I shall never forget. The widow 
of the murdered man wished to see Evans, and I was 
present at the interview, which occurred the day 
before the execution. As she entered the cell,, her 
black eye lit upon the murderer and seemed to pierce 



34° Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

him through. He quailed under it, and turned away 
to avoid her gaze. 

" Evans," said she, " why did you kill my hus- 
band ? Had you any spite against him .■" " 

" No ! " he replied. " Not any. I did very wrong. 
I hope that you will forgive me. " 

The next question revealed the motive which had 
brought her to the cell of the murderer. She fondly 
hoped that he could tell her some last expression, 
some final word, which the dying man uttered in 
regard to his family. 

" Did he say any thing } Did he say any thing 
about me .■• Did he say any thing aboyt the baby ? " 

" No ! " he answered, sadly. Her cherished hope 
was disappointed. There was no final word of the 
husband and the father, to be treasured up in loving 
hearts, for evermore. 

" O, Evans ! " exclaimed she, in the bitterness of 
grief, " what made you do it ? You play with my 
baby, and then kill his father ! " 

Evans was perfectly overwhelmed by this appeal. 
" I do not want to talk about it," said he ; " will you 
forgive me .'' " 

" Well," said she, " I must forgive you. If I re- 
fuse, it will do no good. It will not bring back my 
husband. Good-bye, Evans." And with a heavy 
sigh she turned away and left the cell. 

The Hon. John M'Lean had opened a correspond- 
ence with the Southern Commissioners, on the sub- 
ject of an amicable settlement of their claims. There 
had been a decision in Ohio in favor of the North, 
and another in New York in favor of the South ; but 



Wilkesbarre. 341 

neither decision was final, there being still the right 
to appeal to the Supreme Court at Washington. He 
advised a stay of legal proceedings, and a conference 
of the Commissioners of the two parties, with a view 
to a friendly adjustment of the matters in dispute. 
The Southern Commissioners had been consulted, 
and had agreed to meet us, in the presence of Judge 
M'Lean, who wrote to me urging the adoption of the 
measure, and tendering his services in securing such 
an adjustment of the business as would be both just 
and legal. The Book Agents at New York and those 
at Cincinnati agreed in the opinion that the proposed 
negotiations should cover both suits, and all matters 
at issue, in regard to the Book Room property. In 
May, 1853, Bishop Waugh called the Commissioners 
and the Book Agents to meet at New York for con- 
sultation before our final action was taken. After 
thorough discussion of the case in its various aspects, 
I was directed to prepare an answer to Judge M'Lean, 
stating the principal features of a plan of settlement, 
and indicating our willingness to meet the Commis- 
sioners of the South, and negotiate on that basis. 

In July, the Commissioners and the Book Agents, 
both of the east and western branches of our Book 
Rooms, met at Pittsburgh. Here we found a diiTer- 
ence of opinion. The western suit had been decided 
in our favor, and the western men were confident of 
success, and favorable to a continuance of the legal 
contest. The eastern men were equally sure that if 
we risked another suit it would only result in defeat. 
It was finally agreed that the eastern Commissioners 
and Agents should settle their part of the business, 



342 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

in their own way, while the western suit was proceed- 
ing in the courts. The eastern suit was conse- 
quently withdrawn from the courts, and the business 
was put in the way of adjustment on amicable terms, 
while the western suit went before the Supreme 
Court at Washington. Thus our part of the great 
contest came to an end, so far as the courts were 
concerned. 

On my way home from the Pittsburgh consultation 
I took a circuitous route, and attended a family gather- 
ing at Cazenovia. Five brothers and two sisters, with 
thirteen of the next generation, met and spent four or 
five days together. The anniversary exercises of the 
seminary occurred at the same time, Dr. J. T. Peck de- 
livering the annual address, and Rev. Luther W. Peck 
the poem at the festival of the Alumni. On Sunday, 
Dr. J. T. Peck preached in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, and Luther W. Peck and myself preached in 
the Presbyterian Church. We also attended the 
funeral of John Williams, Esq., a noble man, and 
most estimable citizen. It seemed a strange provi- 
dence, that, after so many years' absence from the 
place, I should be there just in time to look once 
more upon the loved face of my old and valued 
friend. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Brooklyn, Penn- 
sylvania, (once called Hopbottom,) July 27, 1853, 
Bishop Waugh presiding. On the Sabbath of the 
session, by request of the Conference, I preached a 
memorial sermon in reference to Revs. Marmaduke 
Pierce and John W. Safford, who had died during 
the year. The former was "a prince and a great 



Wilkesharre. 343 

man " in those early times ; the other was " a good 
man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith." 

I was re-appointed to Wilkesharre, and again en- 
gaged in earnest labors for the good of souls. It 
was a year of success. 

In September a camp-meeting for the district was 
held five miles west of the village of Wyoming, on 
the grounds of Samuel Durland. I preached the first 
sermon from the text, " The people had a mind to 
work." A goodly number of souls were converted, 
and the Churches represented were much quickened. 

While we were engaged in this meeting an event 
occurred which had a marked effect upon public 
opinion in the valley, and which I narrate as neces- 
sary to a faithful picture of the times. In one of the 
hotels of Wilkesharre there was a negro who was 
suspected of being a fugitive slave. Geographically, 
the town was on one of the main lines of the famous 
" underground railroad," and not a few of the fugitives 
tarried there for a season. There was doubtless some 
mean fellows in the place, who made a business of 
worming their secrets out of the negroes, and selling 
the intelligence to their masters. A number had 
been arrested in a more or less secret manner, and 
carried back to slavery. Wilkesharre had the repu- 
tation of being decidedly conservative, their patriotic 
devotion to the Union impelling some of the people 
on one occasion to ride on a rail a very respectable 
citizen guilty of the crime of being an abolitionist. 

In this rather dangerous latitude Billy Thomas, 
the alleged fugitive, was sojourning. He was a tall, 
athletic man, intelligent, active, efficient in his place 



344 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

in the hotel where he was employed. His master 
heard of him, and took measures to reclaim him. 
Early one morning five ruffians, hired for the pur- 
pose in Philadelphia, and duly clothed with the dig- 
nity and power of deputy marshals of the United 
States, came to Wilkesbarre, and attempted to seize 
this misguided negro and drag him away from the 
horrors of freedom back to the innocence and bliss 
of the patriarchal institution. Armed with clubs and 
pistols, the five rushed upon Billy, knocked him 
senseless, and falling upon him, were proceeding to 
put him in irons. Regaining his senses, he saw in 
a moment the meaning of the murderous attack. 
With the strength which is born of desperation he 
rose up, dashing his assailants from him, and darted 
from the house in the direction of the Susquehanna, 
on whose banks the hotel stood. The marshals fol- 
lowed in close pursuit, firing their revolvers at the 
fugitive. Billy ran into the river, wading out till the 
water was at his chin, and when summoned to return, 
declared that he would drown before he would sur- 
render. The slave-catchers stood upon the shore, 
cursing the obstinacy of the " nigger," and firing their 
pistols at his head. 

Meanwhile the news of what was going on spread 
through the town, and an angry crowd was rapidly 
gathering. The marshals saw scowling faces, and 
heard muttered threats on every side. Becoming 
alarmed for their own safety, they abandoned their 
murderous work in haste, hired a carriage and a pair 
of fast horses, and fled over the mountain with all 
possible speed. Thomas remained in the river till 



Wilkesbarre. 345 

assured of the departure of his enemies, and then 
crept to the land, and, exhausted, bleeding from his 
wounds, and in an almost dying condition, lay upon 
the shore till some kind hand assisted him to a place 
of refuge. As soon as he was able to travel he left 
for Canada. 

This affair made more abolitionists in an hour than 
all the antislavery lectures and publications had done 
in years. It showed th-e real character of the insti- 
tution of slavery, and illustrated the brutal measures 
inseparable from its maintenance. It created also 
general alarm among the colored people of the place, 
and made them increasingly watchful and cautious. 
There was in the town a very pious colored man, 
who would never tell his name, nor the place of his 
former residence. Somebody gave him the title of 
Uncle Tom, and this, was all the name he bore. The 
spies of the South sought in vain to draw his secret 
from him. When he was plied with the question : 

" Where did you come from .? " he made the shrewd 
reply : 

" Now, boss, that question's no 'count, no 'count 
at all. It makes no difference where a man comes 
from. The great question is, Where is he going to ? " 

In September occurred one of the most afHictive 
incidents of my whole life. I was one day on my 
way with my wife to visit her sister, Mrs. Myers, near 
Kingston. Certain men were digging a cellar near 
the road, and blasting the rocks which they encoun- 
tered. A charge exploded just as we were passing. 
Our horse took fright, became utterly unmanageable, 
and ran furiously down the hill ; the carriage made a 



346 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

sudden lurch, and Mrs. Peck was thrown with vio- 
lence to the ground. Arresting the career of the 
frightened animal, I at last ran back to the spot 
where my wife had fallen, and there found her lying 
insensible, her head mangled and bleeding, and one 
of her limbs broken. It was months before she could 
even walk across her room ; but, by the blessing of 
God and a strong constitution, she finally recovered 
her wonted health and strength. 

In November the Commissioners having in charge 
the New York Church suit were summoned to meet 
Judge M'Lean and the Southern Commissioners, and 
complete the business committed to their hands. 
At the very beginning, wide differences of opinion 
appeared between the representatives of the North 
and the South, and a week of discussion was re- 
quired to find common ground. -Our intercourse with 
the Southern Commissioners was, however, character- 
ized by a good spirit, and in time we succeeded in 
harmonizing our views, and fixing terms which were 
satisfactory to both parties. 

In concluding my history of this famous suit, I 
am constrained to say that, in my judgment, the law 
was clearly in favor of the North. The legal doc- 
trine in regard to trusts is clearly defined and well 
established, and it does not allow seceders any por- 
tion of charitable funds held by the original body 
and guarded by constitutional restrictions. The 
ground upon which Judge Nelson based his opinion 
in favor of the South was, that the General Confer- 
ence of 1844 had divided the Church into two eccle- 
siastical jurisdictions, and that two Methodist Epis- 



Wilkesharre. 347 

copal Churches had been constituted, having equal 
claims to the common property. This ground as- 
sumes what is not true, and the opinion based upon 
it is wholly fallacious. If this style of reasoning were 
generally admitted, it would unsettle all ecclesiastical 
and charitable foundations. Still there were cogent 
reasons why we should pursue the matter no further 
in the courts. The New York Commissioners were 
confident that the Cincinnati case, which had been 
appealed, would be decided in favor of the South, 
and the next year, 1854, it was so decided at Wash- 
ington. Public opinion, too, which is not devoid of 
influences even in the decisions of courts, was di- 
vided in the North, and unanimously against us in 
the South, and the sense of justice among our own 
people would be better satisfied by an amicable set- 
tlement made by the parties themselves than by the 
results of litigation, however successful on our part. 
Without waiting, therefore, to see the result of the 
western suit at Washington, the New York Commis- 
sioners adjusted the matters at issue on what both 
parties deemed the principles of justice and honor, 
and had no occasion afterward to regret the course 
which they had taken. If the reader wishes to ex- 
amine all the details of this famous case he will find 
an accurate account of it in Dr. C. Elliott's history 
of the "Great Southern Secession," pp. 779-815. 

In February, 1854, an extraordinary revival com- 
menced at the Plains, where I was preaching Sunday 
afternoons, in a little old church. The locality was 
formerly called Jacob's Plains, from the name of an 
Indian chief who once inhabited it, with his people. 



348 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

In later times it was settled by the Searles, the Ab- 
botts, the Starks, the Carys, and others, old pioneers 
and heroes of the Revolution, whose descendants are 
still numerous. A class was organized here long ago, 
when the Methodist preachers first entered the val- 
ley, but it was still small in numbers. When I came 
to the appointment three brethren — James Stark 
John Gary, and Jacob Sanders — constituted the act- 
ive force of the little Society, with a few women, as 
devoted as those who labored with Paul in the Gos- 
pel, and " whose names were in the book of life." 

For a long time the three named often constituted 
the entire congregation at the weekly prayer-meeting. 
James Stark, whose health was impaired, was some- 
times absent, and then the meeting consisted of two. 
One evening in the latter part of the month named 
these three met. They were alone. They prayed, 
each in turn, and were powerfully blessed. They 
prayed again, each in his order, and the tide of holy 
emotion rose still higher. They all prayed the third 
time, and their joy became rapture. Thus they wor- 
shiped, and wept, and shouted together. As they 
were about to separate one of them said, " I cannot 
wait a week for another such meeting ; let us come 
again to-morrow evening." The others gladly as- 
sented, and the meeting was even more joyous than 
the first had been. 

Some of the neighbors, the second evening, saw a 
light in the school-house, an unusual thing on that 
particular evening, and wondered who was there. As 
they approached they heard the voice of holy song and 
fervent supplication. Looking cautiously through the 



Wyoming District. 349 

windows, they saw the brethren and stood still, look- 
ing and listening. They heard an agreement made 
to meet again the next evening. The next day the 
neighborhood was full of rumors of the wonderful 
meeting, and when evening came the house was full 
of people. Nor were they mere idle spectators. The 
profoundest solemnity prevailed, several persons re- 
quested that prayer be made in their behalf, and 
numbers were awakened to a sense of their danger. 
This was on Saturday evening. Sunday afternoon. 
Father Moister, a venerable local preacher of Wilkes- 
barre, preached in the little Church to a crowded con- 
gregation, and a large number of penitents presented 
themselves for prayers. 

A messenger came to tell me the good news and 
request my presence. The meetings continued for 
three weeks, and the Church was crowded every 
evening, notwithstanding heavy storms arid unfathom- 
able roads. From the mines and the slopes of the 
East Mountain came people who had not attended any 
religious services' for many years. Penitents, number- 
ing from ten to twenty, presented themselves every 
night. The little Society received many accessions 
and became strong. The next year the Church at 
the* Plains was organized as an independent charge, 
and so remains. I write this brief history for the 
encouragement of God's people where they are few, 
and the discouragements many. Thus, with times 
of refreshing, closed my pastoral term in the Wilkes- 
barre charge. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Waverley, New 
York, June 21, 1854, Bishop Janes presiding. Noth- 



3SO Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ing specially worthy of note occurred during the ses- 
sion. On Sunday the services were held in a large 
tent provided for the occasion, the church being too 
small to accommodate the people. I was appointed 
presiding elder on the Wyoming District. 

I fixed my residence in the village of Kingston, 
and began my work at once. I found the district 
very large, as these things are now estimated, demand- 
ing labor sufficient to tax the strength of a vigorous 
man. It was a year of prosperity on the district. 
We had a successful camp-meeting on the grounds of 
Mr. Durland, commencing the thirtieth of August. 
About seventy-five souls were converted, and good in- 
fluences spread to many of the surrounding Churches. 
The chief trial of the year was the repeated attacks 
of chills and fever, to which I and my family were 
subject, and for which there seemed to be no effective 
remedy. 

The Wyoming Conference commenced its session 
June 20, 1855, at Wilkesbarre, Bishop Ames presid- 
ing. I was again elected a delegate to the General 
Conference. I expected, of course, to return to the 
Wyoming District, but intended to remove my resi- 
dence to some other point in it, in order to escape 
from the ague, which prevailed at that time in the 
valley. Learning this fact,, the Bishop concluded that 
a removal still farther north would be no hardship, 
and appointed me to the Binghamton District. 

On the fourth of July I set out for my new field ol 
labor, which was the more interesting to me from the 
fact that it embraced a large part of the circuit which 
I traveled during my first year in the Conference. 



Binghamton District. 351 

Indeed, I found that, with some changes of the bound- 
aries, Binghamton District was merely the Broome 
Circuit of other days. Great changes, however, were 
apparent on every side. The hills and the rivers 
were there, but most of the people whom I knew in 
18 16 had been gathered to their fathers. Here and 
there was one, standing like an aged oak among the 
luxuriant growths of later times. These few surviv- 
ing friends welcomed me as I went around the dis- 
trict, and the greetings were often a pleasant feature 
of our quarterly meetings. 

There was a scheme on foot for the establishment 
of a Conference Seminary. Binghamton had been 
selected as the location, and a school building erected 
on an eminence west of the town. My predecessor 
in the eldership had been one of the leading spirits 
of the enterprise, but I was assured that my appoint- 
ment to the district would lay upon me no responsibil- 
ities in regard to the affair. No sooner had I arrived 
upon the ground than I was elected one of the trust- 
ees, and gradually drawn into what proved to be a 
very unfortunate project. The location alone was 
fatal. Methodism possessed little local strength. 
The town was well supplied with public and private 
schools. Patronage from the surrounding cftuntry 
came slowly. The institution lacked capital. From 
these and other causes it was a failure from the start. 
It opened its doors with feeble hopes, and in six 
months or so closed them again in despair. The 
affair involved me in care, labor, mortification, and 
pecuniary loss. Our own peopje in JBinghamton lost 
heavily by the oi^eration ; and some of the citizens 



353 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

of the place, not connected with our Church, who 
had generously come to our aid, shared our chagrin 
and our losses. 

The labors of the year, aside from the school 
project, were pleasant, and not unsuccessful. In 
September we held a camp-meeting five miles above 
Binghamton, near the forks of the Chenango. The 
attendance was large, the order good, the preaching 
able, and there were a number of conversions, which 
gladdened the hearts of the Church, and gave anew 
impulse to the cause of religion. The Rev. William 
Arthur, of London, my friend and (Correspondent, paid 
us a visit, and saw, for the first time in his life, a 
camp-meeting. Compared with some of the camp- 
meetings of a later date, with their pleasant locations, 
elaborate equipments, and worshiping hosts, it was 
rather a small specimen of this effective means of 
reaching the people. But our Wesleyan brother 
surveyed the scene with the greatest interest, 
shared cheerfully the primitive accommodations of 
our life in the forest, and preached for us a beauti- 
ful and impressive sermon, which, I doubt not, is 
remembered by many to this day with pleasure and 
profit. 

The* winter was cold, with abundance of snow. I 
traveled the district in my own conveyance, and it was 
sometimes difficult for me to make my way through 
the deep drifts and reach my appointments. Still, 
I enjoyed the work. The quarterly meetings were 
" times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord," 
and the protracted meetings at various points were 
seasons of power 



Binghamton District. 353 

The General Conference of 1856 held its session 
at Indianapolis, Indiana. 

We found the city quite large, containing many- 
very fine buildings, but evidently new. The site 
was at that time wet in certain seasons of the year, 
and the faces of the inhabitants hinted possible chills 
and fever. I do not desire to speak evil of the good- 
ly town where I was greeted so hospitably ; but I 
was attacked by the malady named, and suffered 
from it nearly all the month of the session. This 
fact is probably a sufficient excuse for my seeing indi- 
cations of malaria in the little ponds of stagnant 
water here and here, as well as in the sallow faces of 
the people. 

On the second day of May the British delegates. 
Rev. Dr. Hannah and the Rev. Mr. Jobson, were 
introduced and made appropriate addresses. Dr. 
Hannah was a delegate to the Conference of 1824, 
the first of which I was a member, and the interven- 
ing thirty-two years had made visible impress. He 
was then a young and vigorous man ; now his head 
was gray, his face wrinkled, and his motions tremu- 
lous. He preached, however, with power and unc- 
tion. Mr. Jobson was a fiery preacher, and made a 
sensation whenever he occupied the pulpit or the 
platform. 

As usual, the question of slavery was debateS, and 
the discussion this time was long and spirited. My 
old friends, Drs. Chamberlain and Dempster, entered 
with great zeal into the contest, the one dealing in 
the most scathing denunciations of the great abomi- 
nation, and the other demonstrating by formal and 
23 



354 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

labored argument, that the institution is " only evil 
continually." I felt constrained to examine the sub- 
ject from another point of view. The General Con- 
ference needed not to be convinced of the evil or the 
wrong of slavery. On that point we were a unit. 
But our Church on the border was suffering fearfully 
in the collisions of the North and the South, and be- 
tween these upper and nether millstones was being 
ground to powder. New action on the part of the 
General Conference would only inflame passions 
already sufficiently excited, and increase perils al- 
ready sufficiently great. The border Churches which 
still adhered to the North could scarcely hold their 
ground under the most favorable circumstances. 
Extreme measures on the part of the Conference 
would be fatal to them. The representatives from 
Baltimore, Western Virginia, and Missouri, implored 
the General Conference to refrain from new action 
on the subject, and not make the ownership of a 
slave a bar to membership, under the circumstances, 
in the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

I sympathized with these brethren in their sore 
trials. I felt no abatement of my convictions in re- 
gard to slavery ; yet I deemed it right to use caution 
and forbearance in pressing measures which would 
place crushing burdens upon the very brethren who 
were risking all things by their opposition to slavery 
and their fidelity to their convictions. The Wesleyan 
Methodists had not overlooked these considerations 
in the West Indies. The primitive Church did not 
overlook them in dealing with the evils of its own 
times. 



Binghamton District. 355 

The speakers were limited to one hour each, but I 
was interrupted four or five times with questions and 
explanations, and did not complete my argument be- 
fore the limit was reached. The General Conference 
closed its session at midnight the 3d of June. It 
had been to me a period of considerable labor, per- 
formed under very disadvantageous circumstances. 

On reaching home I found affairs at the seminary 
by no means improving. The principal, Mr. Carver, 
managed his school well, but the number of students 
was small, and the expenditure exceeded the income, 
and he was worn with anxiety and overwork. To 
give him a little respite I performed his official duties 
while he took a vacation of some two or three weeks, 
but I resolved that my connection with the institu- 
tion should end with the Conference year. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Binghamton 
July 2, 1856, Bishop Morris presiding. 

I requested the Bishop to release me from the 
presiding eldership, and give me some minor appoint- 
ment within the bounds of the Wyoming district, 
and I was accordingly appointed to the Scran ton 
Mission. 

On taking possession .of my new field of labor I 
found a little Society consisting of about forty reli- 
able members, and an equal number of nominal ones. 
The Scranton Iron Company had given us, ten years 
before, a lot on the main street, upon which a little 
frame church had been built. The services were 
still held in this little edifice, which was the first 
church built in the Lackawanna Valley. The Society, 
however, had ventured into what was deemed a very 



3S6 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ambitious project. A new lot had been secured on 
Adams Avenue, and the church now standing there 
had been begun, and the work prosecuted until the 
basement was nearly ready for occupancy. But the 
means of the feeble Society were exhausted, and the 
enterprise was burdened with debt. This was the 
condition of things at the time of my appointment. 

On Sunday morning, July 19, I preached my first 
sermon in the old church to about thirty people. In 
about a month the basement of the new edifice was 
completed, and the presiding elder of the district, the 
Rev. William Wyatt, dedicated it to the worship of 
God. The sum of one hundred and fifty dollars was 
received on the day of dedication. Things did not 
look encouraging. We had a good room for worship, 
but the congregation filled only' about a third of the 
space. It was clear that we needed, first of all, a 
congregation. Prayer-meetings, and class-meetings, 
too, had been held only at irregular intervals. I 
felt that I had a great and difficult work in hand, but 
I began it in faith and hope. My predecessor, the 
Rev. Mr. Schoonmaker, had been active and labo- 
rious, but much of his time and effort was spent in 
seeking donations abroad, and the internal affairs of 
the Society had suffered during his absences. I 
preached with, all my strength, I visited the people, 
and strove in all worthy ways to build up the Society. . 
Our congregation continued steadily to increase. In 
the winter we held special services for two weeks, 
which benefited our members, but brought us no 
additions to the Society. Still, the year closed with 
signs of progress in all our interests. Financially, as 



Scranton. 357 

well as otherwise, it was yet the day of small things. 
We received four hundred dollars from the Missiona- 
ry Society, and the society raised in sundry ways the 
sum of one hundred and sixty dollars, making a total 
of five hundred and sixty dollars for my support dur- 
ing the year. I give these facts and figures that it 
may be seen from what feebleness the Church at 
Scranton has risen to its present importance. 

The Conference met at Abington, May 6, 1857, 
Bishop Scott presiding. I was reappointed to Scran- 
ton. This year our congregation crowded the lecture- 
room, and we began to feel that the larger room 
above, as yet unfinished, was greatly needed. I 
opened a subscription and secured a thousand dollars 
for the completion of the church, about half of that 
sum coming from the Society, and the balance being 
donations from my personal friends in New York 
and elsewhere. The work was resumed, and went 
on without interruption, but the audience-room was 
not opened till after my term of service had expired. 

In November a deep religious interest began to 
manifest itself in the congregation. We held special 
services for about three months, and there were sixty 
conversions. Nearly all the converts joined our 
Church and became valuable members. 

In the spring of 1858 we were blessed with another 
outpouring of Divine influence. There were power- 
ful revivals in various parts of the country. Daily 
prayer-meetings were held in various cities. The 
Presbyterians of Scranton commenced a daily 
prayer-meeting in Odd Fellows Hall, calling it the 
" Union Meeting," but carefully abstaining from shar- 



35 8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ing with others the burden of its management. My 
■people did not attend it in any great numbers, and 
I resolved to commence evening meetings in our 
own church. Not wishing to do any thing which 
seemed illiberal, I consulted Colonel Scranton, the 
leading man of the Presbyterian Church, and he 
counseled me to proceed. Twenty-five persons pro-, 
fessed conversion, and were added to the Church. 
Thus my term of service in Scranton closed. 

During these two years I spent fragments of time 
in gathering up the traditions and examining the 
history of the Valley of Wyoming, and finally con- 
cluded to publish them. The work was published 
by the Harpers in the spring of 1858, and is entitled 
"Wyoming: its History, Stirring Incidents, and 
Romantic Adventures.'' 



Wyoming District. 359 



CHAPTER XV. 

1858-61, WYOMING DISTRICT 1862-3, LACKAWANNA 

DISTRICT. 

THE Conference began its session at Pittston, 
May 6, 1858, Bishop Baker presiding. As 
we were pressed for time, the appointments were 
made out, and the list sealed up on Saturday even- 
ing. On Monday morning the Bishop departed, 
having directed me to take the chair and complete 
the business. At one o'clock the appointments were 
read, and the Conference adjourned. I was made 
presiding elder on the Wyoming District. 

This year was marked by few events worthy of 
special note. In May we had a family gathering in 
Cortland, N. Y. My brother, Jesse T. Peck, had 
been appointed to a Church in San Francisco, and 
desired to see us all before he left for his new field 
of labor. We spent two days in each other's society, 
and then separated, some, probably, to meet no more 
on earth. 

During the year I officiated at the funeral of two 
venerable local preachers. 

Samuel Griffin, of Kingston, had been for many 
years a local elder in the Church, and was a man of 
great force of character, integrity, and piety. He 
was an excellent preacher, laborious and useful, many 
souls having been converted under his ministry. He 



360 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

was much beloved' and respected, and at his death 
was greatly lamented. 

Jacob Rice, of Truxville, was deeply pious, and 
strongly attached to the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
His hospitable dwelling was long the home of the 
preachers, where they always received a most cordial 
welcome. His wife was a model woman, kind in her 
manners, and a pattern of neatness and good order. 
In this Christian home I spent many pleasant hours, 
which I can never forget. 

In September, 1858, the Church at Scran ton was 
dedicated by the Rev. Pennell Coombe, of the Phila- 
delphia Conference. From this time the Society 
there has had a beautiful and commodious place of 
worship, and has prospered. 

This year I also built a house, and moved into it. 
This, as nearly as I can estimate the number, was 
about the fiftieth removal which we had made since 
our marriage in 18 19. During the previous thirty- 
nine years I had occupied but three regular parson- 
ages. The rest of the time I was generally compelled 
to rent a house, and pay the rent myself 

The work on the district prospered, though there 
was no general revival among the Churches. 

On the 6th of May, 1859, I received information 
of the death of my esteemed friend, the Rev. George 
Lane. He died in Wilkesbarre, his early home, where 
I first met him, and to which he had returned about 
a year before his death. He was a man of deep and 
earnest piety, of undoubted integrity in all matters 
of business, and firm in his friendships. On Sun- 
day, the 8th of May, I preached the sermon at the 



Wyoming District. 361 

funeral of this venerable man of God, and we con- 
signed his remains to the tomb in the beautiful cem- 
etery on the banks of the Susquehanna. 

The Wyoming Conference convened May 12, 1859, 
in Newark Valley, N. Y., Bishop Ames presiding. 

By the request of the Conference I repeated before 
that body the sermon which I preached at Wilkes- 
barre at the funeral of the Rev. G. Lane, the text on 
both occasions being the words, " He was a good 
man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith." 

To me, personally, the great event of the session 
was meeting my old and much-valued friends, the 
Revs. Loring Grant and Elisha Bibbins. While I 
was preaching the memorial sermon, and Mr. Grant 
was sitting with me in the pulpit, I saw Mr. Bibbins 
in the congregation, and the presence of those two 
brought back the thrilling scenes and events of my 
early ministry with such force as almost unfitted me 
to proceed with my discourse. I invited Mr. Bibbins 
to take part in the services with Mr. Grant. My old 
friends were personally known to few present on the 
occasion, but their names had long been household 
words, and all knew their history, their sacrifices, 
labors, and successes in every part of the Conference 
territory. 

I was reappointed to the Wyoming district, and 
began the labors of another year, official and volun- 
tary. I had already made considerable collections of 
material for a history of early Methodism within the 
bounds of the old Genesee Conference. 

The old residents and members of the Church in 
Wyoming Valley gave me much valuable information. 



362 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

The journal of the Rev. William Colbert, one of the 
early pioneers, supplied me with data which I could 
find nowhere else, of the bounds of circuits and the 
names of places and persons in Northern Pennsylva- 
nia, and Southern, Central, and Western New York, 
where he so long and so faithfully labored. While I 
was studying the lines of missionary work on the 
Hudson and the Mohawk, conducted by Rev. Free- 
born Garrettson, in 1788, and deploring the incom- 
pleteness of the records of the times, the veteran 
Bibbins came to see me. His parents and one of 
his brothers were among the first fruits gathered by 
the young preachers who thus ventured into the 
wilderness. 

We talked incessantly for hours, a part of the time 
in my study, and a part of it as we went to call upon 
one of his old friends. As we were on our way Mr. 
Bibbins paused several times, standing with his hand 
upon his side, as if in pain. On one of these occa- 
sions he remarked quietly, " Doctor Everett tells me 
that I have disease of the heart, and will die sud- 
denly. I am trying to be prepared." Returning to 
my house, we spent the evening in calling up reminis- 
cences, grave and gay. My old friend laughed heart- 
ily over the recollection of some of the scenes nar- 
rated, and yet there was an unusual pensiveness in 
his language and manner. About ten o'clock we 
retired to rest. 

About three o'clock the next morning I was awak- 
ened by his calling my name. Procuring a light, I 
went to his room, and found him coughing, raising 
blood, and complaining of being-cold. We at once 



Wyoming District. 363 

kindled a fire, did what we could to make him com- 
fortable, and sent for a physician. When the physi- 
cian arrived Mr. Bibbins said to him, in response to 
an inquiry in regard to his general health, " The old 
machine is nearly worn out." The doctor adminis- 
tered some medicine and departed, his patient being 
apparently free from pain, though still unable to lie 
down. We placed him in a large chair, and wrapped 
him up warm. " There," said he, "that is just right. 
Now, brother, lie down and rest, you must be tired." 
Seeing no reason for apprehension I laid down in the 
same room, and after a time fell asleep. When I 
awoke it was morning. I looked at Mr. Bibbins. He 
seemed not to have stirred a finger, and I thought at 
first that he was in a sweet sleep. Placing my hand 
upon his I found that my dear old friend was gone. 
" The fathers, where are they .■' And the prophets, do 
they live forever ?" 

Funeral services were held in the church at Scran- 
ton, Dr. Paddock preaching a brief discourse, and I 
following with an account of the life and character of 
this aged minister of Christ. The remains were con- 
veyed to Orwell, where a second service was held, 
and I preached a funeral sermon to a large and 
deeply-affected congregation. 

Elisha Bibbins was in many respects a remarkable 
man. The sources of his great usefulness were his 
deep piety, his great zeal for God, the wonderful 
power of his exhortations and prayers, the melting 
pathos of his singing, and the warmth of his great 
heart. These things, under God, made his ministry 
very successful. The Rev. George Landon, making 



364 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

an address at his funeral, said, as he pointed to the 
coffin, " There lie the remains of the man who did 
more toward forming my character and the history 
of my life than any other, for he led me to Christ." 
Multitudes could say the same thing. 

In August Madison F. Myers, my brother-in-law, 
died so peacefully, so triumphantly, that I deem his 
departure worthy to be here recorded. He had been 
a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church since 
1836, and for many years filled the office of steward 
and trustee. He was greatly respected and greatly 
beloved. His last illness was protracted, and during 
its progress I saw him almost daily. I was with him 
when he breathed his last. Such a death is seldom 
witnessed. Sometimes he seemed in an ecstasy of 
joy. Once he called upon us to " sing, sing praise." 
We began to sing the well-known hymn : 

" Come sing to me of heaven, 
When I'm about to die." 

And with big tears of holy rapture falling from his 
eyes he joined in the chorus, "There will be no sor- 
row there." He summoned to his bedside, not only 
the members of his own family and his relatives, but 
every person in his employ, that he might take them 
by the hand, and give them kind words of advice and 
his last blessing. A little while before he, died he 
seemed to be transported with the most sublime con- 
ceptions of the other life, arid the utter insufficiency 
of the things of this "vvorld. With intense emotion 
he exclaimed, " O what should I now do, what can 
any one in my condition do, without hope in Christ ? 



Wyoming District. 365 

Millions of gold, millions of acres, are worthless, and 
I count them as dross." He died the death of the 
righteous. May ours be as peaceful ! 

In the latter part of August we held a camp-meet- 
ing on Everhart's Island, a beautiful place near 
Pittston. The gathering was unusually large, and 
from the beginning deep religious feeling prevailed. 
On the Sabbath it was estimated that ten thousand 
people listened to the preaching, and yet the order 
was complete. There were about forty conversions. 

In November I made ajittle journey to visit some 
old friends, and gather additional materials for my 
history of Early Methodism. At Mile Center I 
spent three days with the venerable Loring Grant, 
who was the means of my entering into the ministry 
in 1 8 16. At Clifton I spent a day with Rev. Gideon 
Draper, another of the veterans of the Church. Dr. 
F. G. Hibbard, whom I also met at Clifton, gave me 
valuable aid in my researches ; as did also the Rev. 
Dr. De Puy, with whom I spent some time at Buffalo. 
At Clarence I visited the Rev. Glezen Filmore, at 
Camillus called upon the Rev. George Harmon, and 
at Syracuse met the Rev. Charles Giles, three more 
of the early heroes of Methodism, whose memories 
were rich in the unwritten chronicles of the past. 
The aid which I received from the brethren named 
gives additional value to the volume which I was pre- 
paring, and with pleasure I here note my obligations 
to them. The work was published in the spring 
of i860. 

My labors during the year had been arduous, and 
yet not burdensome. I had preached every Sabbath 



366 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

since the session of the Conference, and attended to 
all my official duties. It was a year of peace, and of 
some progress on the district, and at its close I felt 
that I could " thank God and take courage." 

The Wyoming Conference held its session at 
Scranton, beginning April 19, i860. Bishop Scott 
presided. 

Not being able to reach the place in time," Bishop 
Scott telegraphed to me to open the Conference and 
proceed with the business. He arrived in time to 
preside the second day of the session. On Saturday 
I was sent to Ithaca to transact some business with 
the trustees of the Oneida Conference, then in session. 
Returning to Scranton on Tuesday, I was informed 
that the election of delegates to the General Confer- 
ence had taken place, and that I was one of the 
members. 

The General Conference of i860 assembled in the 
city of Buffalo. The debate on slavery occupied 
much time, and reached some valuable results. The 
delegates from the border Conferences deprecated 
all new action on the subject, and among them were 
a very few who were ready again to rend the Church 
in case any new advance was made. There seemed 
to be in the minds of some an impression that the 
conservative Conferences, so called, would be ready, 
in case new action was taken, to separate themselves 
from the North, and holding aloof from both North and 
South, form a central Methodist Episcopal Church, 
which should occupy the border territory, and hold 
the same position in regard to slavery which it was 
claimed that the Methodist Episcopal Church had 



General Conference of i860. 367 

held previous to the General Conference of 1 844. The 
discussion Wcis not characterized by extraordinary abil- 
ity, nor did it bring any new light. Not a few of the 
speeches were repetitions of addresses and orations 
which had done duty elsewhere, and whose argu- 
ments and ideas were familiar to all. Indeed, the 
discussion, as I remember it, did not bring forward a 
single new thought. 

Two measures were proposed, the one adding to 
the Discipline a new section declarative of our senti- 
ments on the subject of slavery, the other inaugurat- 
ing the Disciplinary process for such a change of the 
General Rules as would exclude from the Church all 
who held, in the eye of the civil law, the position 
of owners of slaves. While these measures were 
pending, and it had become evident that at least one 
. of them would be adopted, an attempt was made to 
inaugurate a new secession. 

A meeting of the delegates of several Conferences, 
whose territory lies in the middle States, was called 
in the Pearl-street Church, the call, however, not 
specifying the object. Some thirty or forty assem- 
bled. Dr. Sheer, of the Baltimore Conference, was 
invited to preside. On taking the chair, he remarked 
that he did not understand the object of the meeting, 
and that he would be glad if any one present who 
did would explain it. The Rev. John A. Martin, alsq 
of the Baltimore Conference, arose and presented a 
paper, which he proceeded to read. The document 
proved to be a recital of the burdens laid upon the 
Church along the border by the extreme measures 
constantly urged by Northern ultraists. It declared 



368 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

that the pending measures, if adopted, would render 
it impossible for our Church in certain sections of 
the work to hold its ground, and closed with an em- 
phatic protest against any new action as being both 
needless and ruinous. 

As he finished the reading, Mr. Martin said that 
there was no need of discussion. The facts were 
known ; the paper spoke for itself ; all that was now 
necessary was that the brethren should come forward 
at once and sign it. And he placed the document 
on the table for that purpose. No one moved. The 
delegates sat in blank silence for some moments. Dr. 
Crane, of the Newark Conference, then arose and de- 
nounced the whole movement as a deliberate attempt 
to rend the Church a second time. He declared that 
if those present put their names to the papdr before 
them, they would commit themselves to a plot for a 
new separation ; that this was the aim and intent of 
the paper before them, and would be the inevitable 
result if they should sign it ; that if a general disin- 
tegration of the middle Conferences was to be the 
order of the day, as the paper argued, he would prefer 
that the New Jersey Conferences should adopt meas- 
ures that would take them wholly out of the contro- 
versy ; that they should anchor by themselves and 
wait till the storm was over. Little more was said, 
_.^and the meeting broke up in confusion. Of this 
affair, however, I knew nothing at the time. The 
history is of interest now only as an illustration of 
the universal agitation which, in less than a twelve- 
month, ushered in the war of the rebellion. 

I had come to the Conference wholly unpledged 



General Conference of i860. 369 

to any particular measure. I hold that pledges are 
seldom expedient. It cannot be known in advance 
what light will be thrown upon a subject by a thor- 
ough discussion of it, or what shape the question will 
finally assume. I was ready to vote for such a change 
of the General Rule in regard to slavery as would 
render it more stringent in its provisions and a more 
emphatic declaration of our abhorrence of human 
bondage ; but I did not believe that it would be con- 
stitutional for the General Conference, without chang- 
ing the rule, to adopt measures which would have 
the same legal force as a change of the rule. But 
when the section as now found in the Discipline was 
proposed, I saw in it a full and accurate declaration 
of the sentiments which I held on the subject. The 
country was on the verge of civil war. If the General 
Conference should adopt the new section its action 
would be final. If it should inaugurate a change of 
the rule, the proposition must go the round of the 
Annual Conferences, a flaming firebrand of strife and 
passion. Viewing the matter in this light, I voted 
in fevor of the new section on slavery, and against 
a change of the General Rule. 

At this General Conference the subject of lay 
delegation made important advances. A committee 
reported a plan for the adoption of the principle, to 
be submitted to a vote of the laity. During the disa 
cussion, the part containing the plan was stricken 
from the report. This left nothing for the people to 
vote upon except the bare principle.* Not approving 
of the matter in this shape, I moved to lay on the 

table what was left of the report, but my motion 
24 



3/0 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

did not prevail. . The report was adopted, and the 
measure was submitted, as a " glittering generality," 
to the vote of the laity, and defeated, ast'l e;specte.d 
that it would be. '"'' ' " -* ' ' * , 

Nazaritism, as it was called, also occupied the atten- 
tion of the General Conference. Several members 
of the Genesee Conference had become alienated 
from the rest. They complained ' that they were 
neglected and oppressed, and professed to believe 
that the influence of secret societies was potent in 
the management of the ^ffairs of the Church in that 
section. So zealous did they become in their oppo- 
sition to secret sQcieties, that they organized a secret 
society for the express purpose of making war against 
them. Thejafalso professed high regard for old-style 
MethodiOTi in its purity and power. In'time came an 
open rupture, with collisions onthe floor of the Con- 
ference, and a war of newspapers and pamphlets out- 
side.. Four or five minist^s were tried under various 
charges growing out of the troubles, and expelled from 
the Church. They then organized what they named 
the "Free Methodist Church," and sought to form 
societies wherever they could, ^relying, for materials 
chiefly upon discontented members of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, or .those in whom they cquld create 
discontent. Notwithstanding -thjpy had tmited in atr 
^tempt to found a new denomination, they appealed 
to the General Conference for a reversal of the action " 
by which they had been expelled from the Genesee < 
Conference. The General Conference referred the, 
matter, as it did all t^ip appeal oases, to the Court of 
Appeals, a large committee selected for the purpose. 



Wyoming^ District. 371 

Here the cases of the Nazarite appellants were care- 
fully considered ; and it being ascertained that they 
had utterly disregarded' the authority of the Church, 
by which they had been 'deprived of their ministerial 
office, and that they had also organized a society 
openly hostile to the Church, they were adjudged to 
have forfeited their right to an';appeal, and the cases 
were dismissed. From that time the ministers and 
members of the new society have been untiring in 
their labors to establish it upon a permanent basis ; 
but .the narrowness of their views and the acrimony * 
qf their spirit are a very heavy load with which to 
start in a race. Perhaps, as the years pass on, these 
will be modified, and in the end, good come out of 
what seemed unmitigated evil. 

The General Conference adjourned on Monday, ^ 
June 4, and I returned to my Jiome and my work. In 
August, we had another camp-meeting on Everhart's 
Island, which was well attended and successful. 
Shortly after I was attacked, with inflammation of 
the eyes, which proved of so serious a character as 
to almost wholly prevent me from reading and writ- 
ing for the space of two years. The abuse of the most 
perfect physical powers involves retribution. 

This year, i860, will be ever memorable in the his- 
tory of our country. The suicidal arrogance and 
folly of the slave power were approaching their culmi- 
nation.' ' X)ay by day the political sky grew stormy. 
,The presidential campaign was characterized by a 
-bitterness'hitherto unknown, and the very air seemed 
full of foreboding. When the election came, and the 
Republicans were victorious, the joy of the victors 



372 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

was mingled with apprehension. None could tell to 
what desperate measures the slave power — blind, furi- 
ous, and remorseless — might resort. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Owego, April 
II, 1861, Bishop Simpson presiding. 

The session had scarcely begun before the telegraph 
began to bring startling intelligence from the South. 
Oil the 13th the news reached us that the war had 
commenced, and the bombardment of Fort Sumter 
wa#*in progress. The excitement was profound and 
universal, and every true heart flamed with patriotic 
fire. The business of the Conference indeed pro- 
ceeded with some degree of regularity, but all minds 
were full of the great subject which continually 
thrust itself upon our attention ; and in the Bish- 
op's coiyicil, the arranging of the appointments was 
often interrupted, that we might hear the latest 
news. 

I was re-appointed to the Wyoming district. The 
war spirit now ran high^ and in my quarterly visita- 
tions I found not a few Christian men who were 
earnestly canvassing questions of patriotic duty. 
This led me to discuss national questions in the pul- 
pit where I saw fitting opportunity. The South, in 
its madness, had plunged the nation into the horrors 
of fratricidal war. The only alternative left us was 
either to resist with all our strength, or be torn in 
pieces. I saw no way to escape national destruction 
but by the most vigorous and determined resistance. _ 
Consequently, every-where upon my district, I de- 
nounced the crime of the South, and explained what 
I held to be the duty of ^ the Christian citizen. ^ 



Lackawanna District. 373 

In May a fall came near terminating my life. No 
very serious visible injury was inflicted, but my 
nervous system received a heavy shock. I rested 
one Sabbath, and then resumed my work, but soon 
found indications of worse injury than I had expected. 
My memory was not so trustworthy as before, my 
mental processes generally were slow, and there 
were symptoms of coming paralysis. By the advice 
of my physician I left my work, and spent a month 
visiting in New Jersey and New York, and at the 
end of that time returned home much improved in 
health. 

This year closed the disciplinary term on the Wy- 
oming District. They had been four years of suc- 
cess. The cause of religion had prospered at all 
points, and the interests of the Church generally had 
advanced. At the close my health was fully restored, 
and I felt no hesitation in accepting any new field of 
labor which my brethren in their wisdom might des- 
ignate for me. 

The Conference met at Wilkesbarre, April 9, 1862, 
Bishop Scott presiding. 

I was continued in the presiding eldership, being 
appointed to the Lackawanna district. It contained 
twelve appointments only, which enabled me to ar- 
range my labors after the primitive Methodist style, 
giving an entire Sabbath to each quarterly meeting. 
The territory was 'familiar to me. A part of it had 
been included in bid Canaan Circuit, on which I trav- 
eled in 1820, and all of it was included in the Susque- 
hanna district, on which I labored in 1839. I found 
much enjoyment in reviving the friendships of those 



374 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

earlier days. Our quarterly meetings were seasons 
of spiritual refreshing; 

We held our annual camp-meeting on Everhart's 
Island, the Wyoming and the Lackawanna districts 
uniting. It was well attended, and productive of 
good results. My year on the district was as fruitful 
of good as could have been anticipated, considering 
the state of the country. War was raging with all 
its horrors. The Government called continually for 
men to fill the ranks of our armies, and multitudes of 
our youth were hurrying to the field of strife, many 
to return no more. Many homes were sad because 
of the sudden bereavements which every victory and 
every defeat brought in its train. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Susquehanna, 
April 8, i>863. Bishop Janes presided, and the busi- 
ness proceeded with usual harmony and dispatch. 
There was, however, some difficulty in appointing 
two or three preachers, who were charged with polit- 
ical heresy. Popular sentiment was strong in favor 
of the Union and the war for its preservation, and 
the excitement was so great in many of the charges 
that the slightest suspicion of sympathy with seces- 
sion was sufficient to close every door against a 
preacher, however unexceptionable otherwise. Even 
silence on the subject could scarcely be tolerated. 
Under the pressure one of the members of the Con- 
ference not long afterward withdrew from the Church. 
The Conference closed its session on Monday even- 
ing. The Bishop requested me to address the Con- 
ference, just before the reading of the appointments, 
on the usages of the olden times, which I did, so far 



Lackawanna District. 375 

as my own experience and observation gave me light 
on the subject. I was re-appointed to the Lackawan- 
na district. 

In August we held our camp-meeting on Ever- 
hart's Island. An attack of illness had laid me aside 
from my work nearly all the month of July, and I 
came upon the ground only partially recovered, but 
consoling myself with the reflection that Dr. Nelson, 
the efficient presiding elder of the Wyoming district, 
would take the burden of the management. What 
was my consternation on arriving at the island to 
learn that two of the buildings of the Wyoming Sem- 
inary had been consumed by fire the night before, 
and that my colleague in labor would hardly be able 
to be present at all. The preachers, however, lent 
me most efficient aid, and I daily gained, instead of 
losing, strength. A large number of persons were 
converted. On Sunday morning I preached to a 
vast congregation on the signs of the times, (Matt, 
xvi, 3,) taking occasion to review the aspects of the 
moral and political horizon.* Some of the audience 
complained that I " preached pohtics," but I had not 
only the approbation of my own conscience, but the 
clearest evidence, that a very great majority of the 
listening multitudes were entirely and enthusiastically 
in sympathy with the sentiments of the sermon. 

These were indeed days of fiery trial to Christians 
and patriots. The second battle of Bull Run had 
taken place. The Government was loudly calling for 
volunteers, and a draft had also been ordered. Cow- 

* This sermon may be found in the vohime of sermons entitled, 
" Our Country: its Trials and its Triumphs," p. 36. 



376 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ards were flying from their homes to escape from 
military duty. The stoutest hearted and most patri- 
otic were sad, even while they rose to a sterner de- 
termination and loftier sacrifices. The blind party 
fanaticism which demagogues cultivate so carefully 
for their own profit, began to bear its legitimate fruit. 
The July riots of 1863 occurred, and added a new 
horror to the agony through which the nation was 
passing. In our own vicinity there was talk of armed 
resistance to the draft ; and a body of men actually _ 
fixed upon a spot among the mountains, which they 
tried to fortify for a refuge. 

This state of things was known at Washington, 
and vigorous measures were taken in reference to it. 
While our camp-meeting was in progress the solemn 
services were interrupted by the sound of a bugle, 
and a regiment of United States' cavalry were seen 
marching by in plain sight of the congregation. 
This regiment, with part of a regiment of infantry, 
was quartered at Scranton for months. Our town 
was like a camp, military music and parades being 
the most prominent objects of attention in our 
streets. 

Toward the close of this year a fearful epidemic, 
called the black fever, raged in the northern part of 
my district. At Carbondale four hundred persons 
died. At Clark's Green, a village of five or six hun- 
dred inhabitants, one third of the people fell victims. 
In most cases the disease did its fatal work swiftly, 
often in the space of a few hours. It reminded me 
of what was called the Cold Plague of 1 8 1 2, which it 
strongly resembled, if indeed it was not the same 



Lackawanna District. 377 

malady. I remember well the terror inspired by the 
epidemic of 181 2, and the fearful ravages which it 
made. The alarm of the people of Carbondale and 
the surrounding country was intense, and the Churches 
of my district suffered the loss of many members. 

The Conference met at Waverley, N. Y., March 23, 
1864, Bishop Janes presiding. 

The business of the Conference was delayed two 
whole days in an attempt to find places where two 
or three unacceptable preachers would be likely to 
do the least harm. From this source come the worst 
cares and anxieties which burden the superintenden- 
cy of the Church. These men are to be blamed as 
well as pitied. They ought to locate. The blame, 
however, is not wholly theirs. The Conference some- 
times receives men hastily, without evidence of their 
probable usefulness and success. And presiding eld- 
ers, who have such material on their hands, some- 
times fail to be as candid and outspoken as their 
duty to their brethren and the Church demands ; and 
a doubtful man, unsuited to the work, is suffered to 
drag his slow length along till he is so far advanced 
in life that to set him aside involves very serious in- 
jury. The question ought to be settled while the 
man is young, and fields of honorable employment, 
other than the ministry, are open before him. 

I was again elected a delegate to the General Con- 
ference, which met this year in Philadelphia. Ar- 
riving in the city on the 30th of April, I found that 
the home assigned me was the residence of the Rev. 
T. K. Peterson, whose grandfather, Thomas Kelley, 
was my hospitable entertainer during the General 



3/8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Conference of 1832. My comrades then were George 
Pickering, Peter P. Sandford, and George Harmon. 
Those of 1864 were Bishop Morris and Jesse T. Peck. 
All my recollections of the month spent in the hos- 
pitable home of Mr. Kelley are pleasant. 

The General Conference organized on Monday, 
May 2. I was appointed a member of the Committee 
on the Episcopacy, and was made also chairman of 
the Committee on the German work. I was in favor 
of the organization of German Conferences. A long 
and earnest discussion was had over this question in 
the committee, terminating in the adoption of a re- 
port recommending separate organization. This re- 
port was adopted by the General Conference, and the 
plan was inaugurated. On Tuesday the delegate of 
the British Wesleyans, Dr. Thornton, made an able 
address. Friday, the 6th of May, was observed as a 
day of fasting and prayer for the nation. General 
Grant had begun his advance movement in the cam- 
paign which decided the fortunes of the rebellion, 
and every patriot heart was throbbing with hope and 
fear. For many days every prayer offered in the 
General Conference commended to God the cause 
which we loved so well. 

In the Committee on the Episcopacy, strong efforts 
were made to secure action in favor of dividing the 
work into districts, and assigning a bishop to each 
for the term of four years. After much time had 
been spent in discussion, a resolution in favor of the 
measure was laid on the table by a majority of two. 

A committee, consisting of Bishop Ames, Joseph 
Cummings, George Peck, Charles Elliott, and Gran- 



/ 
Lackawanna District, 379 

ville Moody, was appointed to bear to President Lin- 
coln an address, assuring him of our sympathy with 
him in the great responsibilities laid upon him, and 
pledging our prayers "for the preservation of our 
country undivided, for the triumph of our cause, and 
for a permanent peace, gained by the sacrifice of 
no moral principle, but founded on the word of 
God, and securing righteousness, liberty, and- equal 
rights to all." The committee went to Washington 
on Tuesday, May 17. Colonel Moody sought a pre- 
liminary interview with the President, and furnished 
him with a copy of the address. Mr. Lincoln named 
the hour of ten o'clock the next morning for the 
formal interview. The Committee waited upon the 
President at the time designated, and were intro- 
duced by the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward. We 
were received with great courtesy. Dr. Cummings 
read the address. At its conclusion, Mr. Lincoln 
picked up a paper from the desk near which he 
was standing, and said, " I have already been made 
acquainted with the character of this address, and 
have prepared the following reply." He then read 
as follows, in a clear, distinct voice, and with an air of 
heartiness which seemed to say that, with him, it 
was more than mere formality : — 

" Gentlemen : In response to your address, allow 
me to attest the accuracy of its historical statements, 
indorse the sentiments it expresses, and thank you, 
in the nation's name, for the sure promise it gives. 

" Nobly sustained, as the Government has been 
by all the Churches, I would utter nothing which 



38o Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

might in the least appear invidious against any. Yet, 
without this, it may fairly be said that the Methodist 
Church, not less devoted than the best, is, by its 
greater number, the most important of all. It is no 
fault in others that the Methodist Church sends more 
soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospitals, and 
more prayers to Heaven than any. God bless the 
Methodist Church— bless all the Churches ! And 
blessed be God, who in this, our great trial, giveth us 
the Churches ! 

(Signed,) "A. Lincoln." 

The President read the last sentence with a rever- 
ence which seemed to indicate deep religious feeling. 

At our request he presented us with the autograph 
of his reply. We were invited to be seated, a brief 
conversation ensued in regard to public affairs, and 
we then withdrew. I turned to look at Mr. Lincoln 
as we went out. He was already seated at his desk, 
with his pen in his hand. While he was listening to 
our address, and making his reply, he stood before 
us straight as an arrow ; but the moment he sat 
down to his work his shoulders fell, his back bent, 
and he was the very impersonation of a care-worn, 
weary man. I had seen him before. I never saw 
him again. 

We called upon Secretaries Chase and Stanton, 
and also visited the hospitals, where the wounded 
were arriving from the battle fields of the Wilderness. 
'Some had suffered the amputation of legs and arms, 
but not a murmur was heard. When we took the 
train for Philadelphia we found a large number of 



Lackawanna District. 38 1 

wounded men in the cars, on their way to hospitals 
farther north. When we entered Baltimore, we met 
a train laden with recruits on their way to the army, 
and hearty cheers were exchanged. The enthusiasm 
was contagious, and I was almost ready to say, 
" Would that I were young again, that I might join 
this band of heroes, and face the storm of war on 
the plains of Virginia." 

When we went into the Conference the next morn- 
ing, proudly bearing the President's reply to the ad- 
dress, we were taken aback by discovering that it had 
been published in all the morning papers, and every 
body had read it, and knew all about the affair. In 
fact, it had been telegraphed at once to Philadelphia, 
and was going into type before we left Washington. 

Lay delegation came again before the General Con- 
ference, and I was placed on the committee to con- 
sider it. Governor Wright, of Indiana, Dr. Strong, 
of New York, and others, came before the committee 
as the representatives of the friends of the measure, 
and urged immediate action by the General Confer- 
ence. I replied, that the measure had been submit- 
ted to a vote of the laity in 1862, and the majority 
of votes was against the measure. The total vote 
was indeed small, and the popular decision thus given 
might not be the final judgment of the Church, but 
the General Conference, in the face of that decision, 
ought not to establish lay delegation without some 
new declaration of the wishes of the people. The 
General Conference finally submitted the question 
anew, this time with a plan for the introduction of 
lay delegates into the Conference. 



382 Life and Times of G. Peck, D'.D. 

At this General Conference, I found myself, for 
the first time, placed formally among the fathers of 
the Church. Dr. Elliot and myself were invited by 
vote to take our seats on the platform with the bish- 
ops ; and we were also appointed, with Dr. William 
Nast, editor of " The Christian Apologist," to visit 
the Canada Wesleyan Conference, bearing the salu- 
tations of the body that we represented. 

On Friday, May 27, the General Conference ad- 
journed. It had been, emphatically, a session of hard 
work, and had done, what none of its predecessors 
so far as I know had ever done, it had acted upon 
every thing which had been brought before it, and 
had cleared the table of every report and every reso- 
lution, great and small. This may have been due in 
some degree to the fact that it was now no longer 
necessary to inquire, " What shall be done for the 
extirpation of the evil of slavery .? " Lincoln's pro- 
clamation had "proclaimed liberty throughout the 
land, to all the inhabitants thereof," apd the vexing 
questions, originating in slavery were no more. 



Lackawanna District. 383 



CHAPTER XVI. 

1864-5, LACKAWANNA DISTRICT 1866-7, PROVIDENCE 

1868, DUNMOKE 1869-72, WYOMING DISTRICT. 

FAMILY re-unions have become an institution 
with us. As my brother Jesse must soon return 
to California, we arranged to meet at Cortland, New 
York, on Friday the loth of June. At the time ap- 
pointed the five brothers and two sisters, with seven 
or eight children, assembled, and spent two or three 
days together. By-gone scenes and events were 
recalled, and the character and history of the de- 
parted were reviewed. A part of our circle belong 
to Xho. family above ; and as we pronounced their 
names, we rejoiced in the hope of another gathering, 
which should number all these precious ones now 
absent. 

The Sabbath was a day of deep religious interest 
to us. Jesse T. Peck, Luther W. Peck, and myself, 
preached in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Cort- 
land ; and the last day of our family meeting was 
spent in the worship of God, and the relation of 
Christian experience ; and we separated with devout 
gratitude to God for the past, and a good hope 
through grace of life in heaven. 

The General Conference had resolved to celebrate, 
in 1866, the conclusion of the first century of the 
history of Methodism in America. It was deemed 



384 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

wise so to shape the celebration that it would nol 
spend itself in fruitless words, but leave behind it 
useful and substantial memorials of our grateful joy. 
Arrangements were therefore- made for the appoint- 
ment of a large committee of ministers and laymen, 
who should assemble after the adjournment of the 
General Conference, canvass the whole subject care- 
fully, and decide what plans of benevolent enterprise 
should be laid before the Church in connection with 
the Centenary services. I was honored with a place 
on this committee, which consisted of the bishops, 
twelve other ministers, and twelve laymen. The 
committee met at Cleveland, Ohio, on the 22d of 
February, 1865, and subsequently held another meet- 
ing in the city of New York, and, I believe, performed 
their onerous duties wisely, and to the satisfaction of 
the Church. 

All through the war, as has been already said, I 
had availed myself of fitting occasions to discuss the 
principles of Christian citizenship, and the duties de- 
volving upon us in connection with the fearful trial 
through which we were passing. Some of these ser- 
mons had been published by the local journals at the 
time of their delivery, and my friends often asked me 
to publish others.* I resolved to issue a volume, and 
accordingly prepared the notes of fifteen sermons 
with this design. The work was issued in the spring 
of 1865, and I had three copies beautifully bound for 
presentation to President Lincoln, Secretary Seward, 
and Secretary Stanton, with a letter accompanying 
each. But Mr. Seward, the very day I wrote my let- 
ter to him, was thrown from his carriage and nearly 



Lackawanna District. 385 

killed, and a few days afterward the lamented Lincoln 
fell by the hand of an assassin. 

Our Conference met at Carbondale, April 12, 1865, 
Bishop Baker presiding. 

On Saturday, the iSth, the startling intelligence 
reached us of the murder of Presiderlt Lincoln, and 
the attempt on the life of Secretary Seward. When 
the telegram was read in the Conference all faces 
grew pale, and many wept. Sunday was a day of 
darkness. The church was draped in mourning, and 
the crowded congregation sobbed in deep distress. 
Never before, not even when George Washington 
died, had this nation felt so bitter a sorrow. All 
tongues were eloquent in praise of our noble leader 
in these times of peril, and all hearts throbbed with 
grief at " the deep damnation of his taking off." The 
Conference appointed a committee to draft a paper ex- 
pressive of our sentiments on the occasion. The report 
was read on Monday, and impromptu speeches were 
called for. The large church was filled to its utmost 
capacity, and it was an occasion of thrilling interest. 

The Conference adjourned on Monday evening. I 
was re-appointed to the Lackawanna district. On 
my return home the next day I found that arrange- 
ments had been made in Scranton for holding a me- 
morial service in honor of the lamented President, 
and that I had been selected to deliver the address. 
I did so in the Presbyterian Church. A vast crowd 
assembled, only part of whom were able to find places 
in the church, those who could not get in standing 
outside in reverent silence till the service ended. 

In June Dr. C. Elliott and myself proceeded to 
25 



386 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Canada to visit the Wesleyan Conference, according 
to the action of our General Conference. The ses- 
sion was held in London, Canada West, which place 
I reached, in company with my son, Luther W. Peck, 
on the 6th, and we were met by the Rev. Mr. Jones, 
the president of the Conference, and conducted to the 
residence of Samuel Glass, Esq., where we received 
a cordial welcome, and found a delightful home while 
we remained in London. Mr. Glass is a frank, large- 
hearted Canadian, and his wife a fine specimen of a 
Yankee lady. 

The session of the Conference was opened on 
Wednesday morning. Dr. Elliott, accompanied by 
Rev. Dr. T. M. Eddy, had arrived. We were re- 
ceived with great cordiality, and a special meeting 
was appointed to hear our communication. On 
Thursday evening, the time fixed upon for the occa- 
sion, an immense congregation assembled, and every 
evidence of good feeling was exhibited toward us as 
the messengers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
and as Americans. Dr. Elliott spoke first, the main 
body of his address being a labored argument against 
the legitimacy of the Methodist Episcopal Church of 
Canada. Whatever may have been the logical force 
of his speech, the propriety of i't was not clear. Our 
Church was in fraternal relations with the Canada 
Methodist Episcopal Church, and the General Con- 
ference had appointed delegates to represent us at 
their next session, and we were under no obligations 
to debate the local questions which belong to our 
neighbors. 

I also addressed the Conference, and the following, 



Lackawanna District. 387 

from the " Christian Guardian," is a report of my 
closing remarks : — 

I am happy to say that, notwithstanding the national troub- 
les during the last four years, and the vast discount on ex- 
changes, our missions have been carried on with vigor and 
success, and the treasury, like the widow's barrel of meal and 
cruse of oil, has always had something in it. Last year was 
raised and paid into the treasury the sum of five hundred and 
fifty-eight thousand dollars, and for the present year the Gen- 
eral Missionary Committee has estimated six hundred and 
twenty-five thousand dollars, and it will be raised. 

The Society has a new field open for its cultivation in the 
Southern States. The way is open there for the reconstruction 
of Methodism in that desolated country. Rebellion has done 
its worst to desolate one of the fairest portions of our heritage, 
but allow the Yankees room to stand on and they will move the 
•world. 

The four millions of colored people who were lately in slavery 
are now within the reach of a pure Gospel. Learning to read 
has become a passion with the old and the young. If one of 
these poor creatures finds a scrap of paper in the road with 
letters upon it, it is taken up and spelled out. We now have 
hundreds and thousands of them, young and old, receiving 
regular instruction in school. They see " Massa Lincoln's 
army" — they run after them — they shout — they sing — they 
jump — they kneel and pray — they sit down upon the ground 
and read — they go to school — they attend meeting — they march 
— they turn soldiers and fight, and join in the chorus — 

" It must be now dat de kingdom is a coming, 
And de year of Jubilo." 

I have come so near to our great national troubles that I am 
sure you will not require me to proceed without giving them a 
passing notice. 

The Southern rebellion was inaugurated for the ostensible 
object of securing liberty, but its real object was that of build- 
ing up a great slave empire. There was no cause of complaint 



388 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

— it had long been in contemplation — it commenced in rob- 
bery, theft, and murder — it culminated in the assassination of 
our excellent President. I would say something of his charac- 
ter, but cannot do justice to the subject. 

Finally, our common object is to preach Methodism — orig- 
inal, aggressive, progressive Methodism — that Methodism 
which is like our grand primeval forests, that bathe their tops 
in the clouds ; like our broad prairies, beautified with flowers 
and fruitage ; like our grand old mountains that stand so won- 
drous strong ; like the extended, progressing, cumulative, irre- 
sistible Mississippi, which pours its vast volume into the sea ; 
like our sublime Niagara, mighty, majestic, overwhelming, 
darkening, roaring, thundering on till lost in the great ocean. 
There is but one Niagara. I was about to say that Niagara 
belongs to the States and to Canada, but it is the common 
property of all. So with Methodism. It is not to be restricted 
to time or place. It belongs to the world. It is the heritage 
of the ages to come. And now, Mr. President, allow me to 
''say, in conclusion, that we join hands with you in prosecuting 
this universal mission of Methodism, and its glorious consum- 
mation, when it shall stand in the end of all things among the 
most honored and successful instruments of the Infinite Mind 
for the redemption of the world. 

Friday was devoted to the reception of young men 
as members of the Conference. Seven candidates 
for admission, as is the usage of the Canada Wesley- 
ans, as well as of the parent body in England, related 
their religious experiences, and their call to the min- 
istry. Their addresses were highly interesting, and 
some of them deeply affecting. In listening to them 
I thought, as I had thought years before, when I was 
present on a similar occasion in England, that we 
might adopt the custom with advantage. We have, 
indeed, at every Conference a long address made by 
the Bishop to the candidates for admission ; but as it 



Lackawanna District. 389 

must needs come annually, repetition is unavoidable, 
and the warm, simple stories of the young men them- 
selves would touch us more deeply, and perhaps do 
as much good. 

On Saturday afternoon we attended a reception of 
the Mayor of the city. The leading men of the Con- 
ference were present, and the occasion was exceed- 
ingly pleasant. Here, and every-where in Canada, I 
was impressed with the fact that the Wesleyan min- 
isters have the respect of the best classes of society 
in the Province. 

The business of the Conference was conducted in 
a manner similar to that of the English Wesleyans. 
The discussions were able and animated, and often 
punctuated with the clapping of hands and the stamp- 
ing of feet. Christian courtesy seemed to charac- 
terize all the proceedings, and great deference was 
paid to the old and leading men, and especially to 
the presiding officer. The financial system of the 
Canada Wesleyans is admirable, and we might even 
adopt some of its features, particularly the Children's 
Fund, and the fund for the Support of Disabled Min- 
isters. But in regard to one of the main features of 
the Wesleyan organization, both in England and 
Canada, the appointment of chairmen of districts, I 
could not avoid the conclusion that our own system 
of presiding elders is preferable. 

On Sunday I preached in the morning, and Dr. 
Eddy in the afternoon, to crowded congregations. 
In the evening Dr. Ryerson, of the Canada Confer- 
ence, preached an able and eloquent sermon on the 
death of the late president of that body. On Monday 



390 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Drs. Elliott and Eddy took leave of the Conference 
in brief addresses. In the evening L. W. Peck 
preached. The next morning we also took our leave. 
" The Guardian " thus notices the matter : " At eleven 
o'clock the Rev. George Peck, D.D., delivered a very- 
pleasing and affecting farewell address. The Rev. 
L. W. Peck, son and associate of Dr. Peck, also 
addressed a few words of affectionate parting to the 
ministers present before leaving for his home in the 
United States. At the close of the remarks made 
by these honored brethren, words of kindly response 
were spoken by the Rev. Mr. Carroll, Dr. Nelles, and 
Dr. Ryerson." 

Our visit to the Canada Conference increased our 
respect for that body. We had a more perfect view 
of the great work which Methodism has accomplished 
in British America. We saw some of the valuable 
results of their missionary enterprises ; we had an 
evidence of the success of their educational efforts in 
the growth of Victoria College ; we witnessed the 
deliberations of a large and well-trained body of min- 
isters ; we heard reports from the various charges, 
their progress, and their contributions in aid of the 
benevolent agencies of the Church, and could hardly 
believe that the handful of young and inexperienced 
men, who left us in 1828, had attained this greatness 
and power for good. " What hath God wrought ? " 
After taking an affectionate leave of our host and 
his excellent lady we departed, and in due season 
reached our homes in safety. 

Having engaged to preach the annual sermon be- 
fore the Missionary Society of the Wesleyan Uiii- 



Wyoming District. 391 

versity in July, I set off, in company with my son, the 
Rev. George M. Peck, who was a member of the 
Committee of Examinations, and arrived in New 
York city just in time to see Barnum's Museum in 
flames. A seal which escaped from the ruins, or at 
all events was said to have come from that quarter, 
was sporting in the river as we went on board the 
steamer. 

Reaching Middletown, we were cordially welcomed 
to the house of Professor Johnston. I performed the 
duty which brought us hither, witnessed a part of 
the Commencement exercises, and was present at 
the meeting of the joint board of Trustees and Visit- 
ors, where for the last time I looked on the face of 
the patriarchal Laban Clark. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Owego, April 18, 
1 866, Bishop Thomson presiding. 

The Conference had passed, the year before, a reso- 
lution requesting me to preach before them in 1866 a 
semicentennial sermon, as I would then complete fifty 
years in the itinerant service. While we were hold- 
ing our session at Owego, the Oneida Conference, of 
which I had been a member from 1828 to 1840, was 
in session at Ithaca, only some thirty miles distant. 
The Oneida Conference proposed a reunion meeting 
of the two Conferences at Ithaca, and requested also 
that my sermon should be delivered at that time. 
The arrangement was made, and on Friday the re- 
union occurred. The place of assembly was the 
Town Hall, a spacious edifice, which was filled with 
a dense crowd. 

The Rev. Dr. Comfort, in behalf of the Oneida 



392 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Conference, delivered an address of welcome. By 
request of the Wyoming Conference, Bishop Thom- 
son responded for us. Both addresses were able and 
interesting. Bishop Thomson's was in an especially 
happy vein, and one of the Oneida brethren, who 
had never seen him before, and who took him to be a 
member of our Conference, remarked, "That little 
Wyoming fellow is as keen as a razor. He beats our 
man all hollow ! " His speech was, indeed, a fine 
specimen of sentiment, wit, and humor. 

After the welcome and the response came the ser- 
mon, an hour and a half long. The day was excessive- 
ly warm, and the audience uncomfortably crowded, but 
they listened to the end with a degree of enthusiasm 
hardly to be expected under the circumstances. At 
■ the conclusion the fathers were called out to give 
their reminiscences of the early times. Then some 
of the younger ministers made eloquent speeches, 
and the scene closed with universal hand-shakings 
and congratulations. The people of Ithaca opened 
their doors to the visiting Conferences, and gave 
them a sumptuous dinner. I was the guest of my 
old and esteemed friend. Judge Dana, whom I then 
saw for the last time. He was a noble Christian 
gentleman, who "being dead, yet speaketh." In the 
evening we returned to Owego, greatly pleased with 
the events of the day. 

On Sunday I preached in the Presbyterian church. 
In the evening the Conference Missionary Society 
held its anniversary, and Bishop Thomson made a 
grand speech, contrasting the moral and rehgious 
condition of Christian countries with that of heathen 



Providence. 393 

and Mohammedan nations, and drawing his illustra- 
tions from his own personal observations. The Con- 
ference adjourned on Tuesday, the 24th. Having 
completed my four years' term on the Lackawanna 
district, I was appointed pastor of the Church at 
Providence. 

The principal matters which interested the Church 
this year were connected with the general celebration 
of the centennial anniversary. I had special right to 
be interested, seeing that the year which terminated 
the first century of Methodism in America closed my 
half century of ministerial work. By far the greater 
part of the progress of the Church in the visible ele- 
ments of power had been made during my own min- 
isterial life, and under my own observation. 

In September we held our family reunion in the 
village of Vermillion, New York. The five brothers 
and two sisters were present, nor were the junior" 
branches without representation. The time was 
spent in relating reminiscences of the past, in con- 
verse and devotion. On Sunday Brother Jesse and 
I preached in the morning, and in the evening at- 
tended a centenary celebration in the village of 
Mexico, and made addresses in the place of certain 
speakers who had been engaged for the occasion, but 
who failed to appear. We had a large cpngregation, 
and much interest was manifested. We separated 
on Tuesday, with devout gratitude to God for his 
infinite goodness. 

In the autumn, centenary celebrations were pro- 
jected in all the Churches. I began the campaign 
by preaching to my people a series of sermons on the 



394 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

" History, Polity, Doctrines, and Progress of the Meth- 
odist "Episcopal Church," closing with a celebration, 
the most prominent feature of which was an able 
discourse delivered by the Rev. Dr. Nelson. I also 
preached a Centenary sermon in Stroudsburgh, where 
a gracious revival of religion was in progress. 

The Conference met at Hyde Park, April 17, 1867. 
There being no bishop present at the hour named for 
the opening of the session, I was elected, according 
to the provisions of the Discipline, to preside until 
his arrival. Bishop Simpson arrived in time to take 
the chair on the second day of the session. On Sun- 
day, which was Easter, the Bishop preached on the 
resurrection of Christ, before a vast congregation in 
Washington Hall, Scranton. It was one of his hap- 
piest efforts, thrilling the audience with his vivid 
description and conclusive logic. In the afternoon 
he delivered an address at the ordination of elders, 
in the church at Hyde Park. The effect was won- 
derful ; sobs were heard, and shouts arose from every 
part of the assembly, and there descended a baptism 
of power which those present cannot forget. The 
Conference closed its session on Monday, and I was 
re-appointed to Providence. 

I addressed myself with much earnestness and 
prayer to my work, and prepared more new sermons 
than I had done for years. The eight years previous 
to my coming to Providence had been spent in the 
eldership ; and in resuming the position of a pastor, 
I felt the change, and saw how I could very easily 
have prepared myself to feel it still more. It was new 
work for me to look over the Church record, and 



Providence. 395 

search out the delinquent and the neglected. It was 
a new thing to canvass for subscribers for our Church 
periodicals, and arrange for the multiplied confer- 
ence collections. But to preach two sermons every 
Sabbath to the same congregation was not burden- 
some, because during the years of my presiding el- 
dership I had not ceased from study, or lost, in any 
degree, my mental discipline. On a district, a few ser- 
mons, endlessly repeated, may be made to answer all 
purposes, and an indolent man may cease to study, 
cease to prepare any thing new, and at the end of his 
term be confirmed in habits of indolence, and unfit- 
ted for all vigorous, acceptable service in the pastorate. 
He who would not deteriorate must keep at work. 

I found great enjoyment in proclaiming the Divine 
message, and great hope that my labor would not 
prove in vain in the Lord. In January, during the 
week of prayer, I held meeting every evening, and 
looked for tokens of good, but there was no special 
revival in the Church or congregation. I fancied that 
the abundant snow and good sleighing which charac- 
terized the winter diverted the attention of our young 
people, and even some of the older ones, from serious 
things, and kept them from the house of God. 

Conference met in Binghamton, April 7, 1868, 
Bishop Kingsley presiding. I was again elected a 
delegate to the General Conference, and was ap- 
pointed to Dunmore. 

The General Conference met in Chicago, where I 
was entertained at the house of my nephew, PhiHp 
Myers, Esq. The Conference is rendered memo- 
rable by the passage of measures preparing the way 



396 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

for the introduction of lay delegates into the General 
Conference. After much earnest discussion a plan 
for the election of delegates was prepared, to be 
submitted to the people for their adoption. In fact, 
few opposed lay delegation in the abstract. The 
great difficulty was to determine the due propor- 
tion of lay delegates, and the best mode of electing 
them. 

The General Conference of 1864 had authorized 
the bishops to organize one or more new Conferences 
" in the Southern States and in the Territories." If 
this had been all that was done, there would have 
been no place for doubt and debate ; but the curious 
part of the story is, that two different resolutions, 
one reported by the Committee on Boundaries, 
and the other by the Committee on Missions, were 
passed, giving the bishops the authority to organize 
Conferences in new territory, and the two resolu- 
tions were not of the same tenor. The geographical 
spaces referred to were indeed the same, but the 
trouble was this : one resolution, passed May 23, 
provided that the Conferences thus constituted 
should not be represented in the General Confer- 
ence; nor vote on constitutional changes in the 
Discipline, nor should the disabled members of these 
Conferences, their widows or orphans, have any claim 
upon the proceeds of the Book Concern and the 
Chartered Fund, which restrictions were to continue 
till the next General Conference after the organiza- 
tion of the Conferences, and then lapse, unless new 
action was taken. The other resolution, passed May 
25, imposed no restriction whatever, and totally 



Dunmore. 397 

ignored the action of two days before. Several new 
Conferences had been organized under this action, 
and had elected delegates to the General Confer- 
ence. When these delegates presented themselves, 
the question of the legality of admitting them was 
at once raised, and occasioned a vigorous four-days' 
debate. The ground was taken that the restrictions 
laid upon the new Conferences prevented the recep- 
tion of their delegates. The restrictions were to 
"continue until the next ensuing General Confer- 
ence." The Conferences had assembled, and conse- 
quently the restrictions, by the very terms of the 
resolution which gave them being, were now dead. 
Nevertheless, a great battle was fought over these 
null and void restrictions, like the tremendous fight 
of heroes over the dead body of Hector on the plains 
of Troy. The position taken by some was, that the 
restrictions laid upon these new Conferences were 
similar to those laid upon Mission Conferences, con- 
sequently, the design of the action of 1864 was to 
constitute Mission Conferences ; consequently, to 
admit their delegates now would be to change the 
whole plan and purpose of such action. 

Many able speeches were made in the course of the 
prolonged debate ; and when the vote was reached, 
an overwhelming majority (205 to 17) voted to admit 
at once the delegates of the new Conferences. Not 
only was this done, but the restrictions of the Mis- 
sion Conferences were removed, and their delegates 
admitted. 

This General Conference made an important 
change in the boundaries of the Wyoming Confer- 



398 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

ence, by which two whole districts, the Otsego 
and the Chenango, were given us from the Oneida 
Conference. We had not asked for this addition to 
our strength, but accepted it with all readiness. 
While we were in session the National Republican 
Convention met in Chicago, and nominated General 
Grant and Mr. Colfax. This gave us an opportunity 
of seeing many of the political celebrities of the 
times. 

The General Conference adjourned June 2. The 
session was harmonious, and its action on several 
important points will, doubtless, be of permanent 
value to the Church. 

Returning home, I resumed my pastoral work. My 
people were very kind, manifesting great interest in 
the services of God's house, and bestowing upon us 
many substantial tokens of their regard ; but the pas- 
toral work of the charge was somewhat taxing to my 
strength. Still, it was a year of harmony, and not 
without success. The people of Dunmore, and the 
seasons of refreshing which we enjoyed among them, 
will never be forgotten. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Honesdale, 
April IS, 1869, Bishop Ames presiding. 

The session was characterized by the greatest good 
feeling among the ministers, and a powerful religious 
influence among the people. At its close I was ap- 
pointed for the fifth time to the Wyoming district. 
My field of labor was large and important, and I felt 
a special interest in my work, from the fact that I 
was every-where traversing familiar ground, and daily 
meeting old friends ; the four previous terms, how- 



Wyoming District. 399 

ever, only amounting to eight years in the aggregate. 
At our District Preachers' Meeting the question of 
holding a camp-meeting was introduced, and a reso- 
lution was passed requesting the elder to select 
ground for the purpose. A camp-meeting was ac- 
cordingly held on the Bethel ground, at Dunning's, 
commencing August 18. There were about forty 
conversions reported. Revivals followed in various 
Churches, and throughout the district it was a year 
of prosperity. In June, our Golden Wedding was 
duly celebrated. A friend furnishes the following 
account of it : — 

June 10, 1869, was the fiftieth anniversaiy of the marriage of 
Dr. George Peck and Mary Myers, which took place at Forty 
Fort, in the famous valley of Wyoming, June 10, 1819. The 
marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. George Lane, and 
the certificate signed by him and by Thomas and Harriet 
Myers, both of whom were living and present at this interest- 
ing anniversary. A large concourse of friends were assembled 
in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Scranton. Hon. Lewis 
Pughe was appointed to preside, and in a few well-chosen re- 
marks opened the exercises of the day. The following mem- 
bers of the family were present : George Peck, seventy-two 
years of age ; Mrs. Mary Myers Peck, seventy-one ; Luther H. 
Peck, seventy-six ; Andrew, William, and Dr. Jesse T. Peck, 
Mrs. Annie Crowell, and Mr. Smith, and Susanna Smith, his 
wife. Children present : George M. Peck, Luther W. Peck, 
Mrs. Sarah M. Peck, Mr. and Mrs. Dr." J. T. Crane, W. F. 
Peck and wife, and three grandchildren — George, Louise, and 
George Luther, the latter being the youngest of the family 
present. The seven hundred and seventh hymn was sung, 
" And are we yet alive." Prayer was offered, and Rev. Dr. Nel- 
son, principal of Wyoming Seminary, then addressed the as- 
sembly in a very happy manner. He said Dr. Peck had trav- 
eled a circuit larger than this Conference before most of them 



400 L[FE AND Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

were born. He had been principal of Cazenovia Seminary, 
editor of the " Quarterly Review " for years with distinguished 
ability, and editor of the " Christian Advocate and Journal." 

We delight to honor him for his goodness, his greatness, his 
distinguished abilities, and large attainments. He has been con- 
secrated to the cause of God and the Church during a longlife of 
trial and sacrifice. He closed with a prayer that God might 
spare Dr. Peck yet longer to his family, the Church, and the world. 

Dr. Jesse T. (now Bishop) Peck spoke in a feeling and im- 
pressive manner. He said all the brothers and sisters looked 
to Brother George as the living head of the family. He said. 
The fourth generation is represented here. There were eleven 
children in all ; four sisters had gone up higher. Five brothers 
and<two sisters were present, and the loved departed might be 
looking down from heaven on their honored brother who had 
beheld the country during his eventful career marching onward 
in the development of a grand Christian civilization to become 
the future theater of God's great glory. When he was too 
young to be without direction he owed his training and intro- 
duction to the great field of action in life to this elder brother, 
and it was to him a dear remembrance of his childhood. 

Addresses were also made by Rev. G. M. Peck, Rev. L. W. 
Peck, Dr. W. F. Peck, and Dr. J. T. Crane. James Gaylord 
Clark sang with great impressiveness, " Where the rose ne'er 
shall wither." Mrs. C. A. Bergtold also sang " John Anderson, 
my jo, John," accompanied by Mr. L. B. Powell on the piano, 
bringing tears to many eyes. Mr. J. C. Nobles, pastor of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, Scranton, read a beautiful poem 
by " Stella," the last stanza as follows : — 

"Friendship hath woven to-day a new chain. 
Binding our twining lives earthward again ; 
If there be joy in this sin-blighted sphere, 
'Tis the warm sympathy greeting us here. 
If there be gladness like that born above, 
'Tis the communion of those that we love ; 
And we forget all the sorrow and strife 
In this sweet ending oi fifty years^ life." 

Among the gifts was a gold watch and chain, presented by 
R. H. M'Kuhe, with the inscription, " Presented to Rev. George 



The Golden Wedding. 401 

Peck by the citizens of Scranton and Willcesbarre." Also a 
gold-lieaded cane of tiie California yew, identical with the cedar 
of Lebanon, presented by Dr. J. T. Peck. Fifty dollars in gold 
was presented by the family to Dr. Peck, and fifty to Mrs. 
Peck. 

The closing remarks were by Dr. Peck. He said he wished 
he was worthy the high encomiums which were heaped upor 
him by Dr. Nelson, his brothers, his children, and friends. He 
looked back on the last fifty years with wonder. He was aston- 
ished at himself and the kind forbearance of the Church and 
the public. He never thought himself to be very much in the 
Church or the world as a Christian worker ; but he had done 
his part without complaining. He started out with diffidence, 
thought he could not preach, but had succeeded by trying all 
his life to do by God's command what he knew he couldn't do 
without Divine assistance. He had seen stupendous changes, 
but if he had his life to live over again would not change its 
grand direction toward humanity, the Church, and heaven. 

The age of the relatives of the family met on this occasion 
aggregated five hundred years, the preachers present aggre- 
gating two hundred and fourteen years. 

An ample dinner and collation was served in the basement 
to the family and a large number of ministerial friends and 
friends of the Churches. 

The closing scene, so sacred, holy, and influential, where 
prayer, and praise, and heart-communing made the hours most 
memorable of any spent on earth, was on the last evening of 
the meeting, and in it the spiritual welfare of no member of 
the family was forgotten. The public was strictly excluded, 
and God was invoked not in vain, as we hope eternity will 
show. 

The following is from a poem written for the occasion by 
Rev. L. W. Peck, and was sung at the closing exercises by Mr. 
Charles A. Hurlbutt, the audience joining in the chorus :— 

" King out the solemn greeting o'er river, tower, and town ; 
Let love, like golden sunlight, shower its blessings down ; 
And may the hearts so glowing when ages hence have flown 
In glory still be one." 
26 



402 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

The next Conference met at Wilkesbarre, April 12, 
1870, Bishop Janes presiding. 

I was re-appointed to the Wyoming District. In 
August we had another camp-meeting on the Bethel 
ground, which resulted in a goodly number of con- 
versions. On our way home, with a great crowd of 
preachers and people on the train, we had a very 
narrow escape. Another train ran into ours from 
behind, breaking the platforms of the cars, prostrat- 
ing the passengers by the violence of the shock, and 
causing wild alarm, but happily doing no more serious 
injury. The narrowest escapes and the worst perils 
were those of persons who lost their presence of mind, 
and came near losing life in attempting to save it. 

The Wyoming Conference of 1871 met April 5, 
at Norwich, New York, Bishop Janes presiding in 
place of Bishop Clark, whose health had failed. The 
Bishops who were still effective were doing double 
service, and we were compelled to hurry our session 
to a close at a little past the midnight of Monday. 

This season I attended the carnp-meeting on the 
new ground purchased by the Newark Conference, 
at Denville, New Jersey. The grounds are beautiful 
and well located, and the arrangements, projected 
and begun, were admirable ; but copious rains were 
falling nearly all the time I was there, compelling the 
people to hold their services in tents, and greatly re- 
ducing the numbers in attendance. Still, I was more 
impressed than ever with the propriety of securing 
permanent places for the holding of camp-meetings. 
A project of the kind had been for some time under 
consideration on my district, and the committee ap- 



Wyoming District. 403 

pointed for the purpose finally selected and purchased 
a location for our annual Feast of Tabernacles. 
The spot chosen lies on the western slope of the 
Susquehanna Mountain, five miles from Wyoming 
depot. By strenuous efforts the ground was cleared 
and put in tolerably good condition by Wednesday, 
September 6, the day appointed for the opening. 
The meeting was successful. The preaching was 
able, the prayer-meetings were spirited, and souls 
were saved. We closed about midnight on Thurs- 
day, the 14th. The final scene was picturesque and 
impressive. After the sermon the Lord's Supper 
was administered, and then succeeded a procession 
around the circle, after the olden fashion, with sacred 
song and chorus, and shouts of praise. 

The district was greatly blessed during the year, 
many souls were converted, and the work was greatly 
enlarged. 

The Wyoming Conference met at Owego, April 3, 
1872. Bishop Scott had been appointed to preside, 
but was prevented by illness from attending the ses- 
sion. I was elected to preside, and soon learned 
that I should be called upon to perform all the duties 
of the Episcopal office except that of ordination. 
Bishop Simpson was presiding over the New York 
Central Conference at Cortland. We telegraphed to 
him, informing him of the illness of Bishop Scott, and 
he came to our Conference, and spent a few hours, or- 
daining the candidates for orders, and making three 
appointments and one transfer. I was re-appointed 
by him to the Wyoming district. The business 
proceeded harmoniously, and the appointments in 



404 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

general were well received by the preachers and the 
people. I was elected a delegate to the General 
Conference, making the thirteenth time I had been 
thus honored without a break in the succession. 

On the first day of May the General Conference 
began its session in the city of Brooklyn. The lay 
delegates were formally admitted, and thus a new era 
in our legislation was inaugurated. The laymen thus 
added to the body were men of great respectability 
and influence. Among them were judges, members 
of Congress and of State Legislatures, and generals 
in the army of the United States. The business of 
the General Conference was, in many important re- 
spects, aided by this reinforcement from the people ; 
and the bearing of the new members, the fidelity 
with which they applied themselves to the matters 
committed to their hands, and the ability and efH- 
ciency which they manifested, abundantly vindicated 
the introduction of the lay element into the chief 
council of the Church. 

Many important questions came before the body, 
and some that were unusual. Among the latter was 
the inquiry concerning the management of certain 
departments of the Book Concern at New York. 
A committee, embracing some of our ablest lay- 
men, thoroughly investigated the whole matter, and 
brought in an elaborate report, which passed without 
debate, and brought the agitation to an end. 

During the previous four years, four of the Bish- 
ops, Thomson, Kingsley, Clark, and Baker, had died. 
Their death had laid heavy burdens upon the sur- 
vivors, and scarcely one of them came to the General 



Wyoming District. 405 

Conference in good health. It was evident that there 
must be a large addition made to the Episcopal force. 
After much discussion it was determined to elect 
eight men to the office, and Messrs. Bowman, Wiley, 
Harris, Merrill, Foster, Andrews, Haven, and Peck, 
were chosen. In the ordination service I was called 
upon to present my brother. 

This General Conference was noted, among other 
things, for the number of delegates who came to us 
from other branches of the Christian Church, the 
ability and eloquence of their addresses, and the 
warmth of the fraternal feeling which they expressed. 

Returning home at the close of the session of the 
General Conference; I resumed my work on the dis- 
trict, laboring with about the same ease and success as 
had characterized the previous three years in the same 
field. In August we held the second camp-meeting at 
Mountain Grove, the ground which we had purchased 
for permanent occupation. Considerable improve- 
ments had been effected ; the avenues were in part 
graded, and several public buildings and a number of 
cottages had been erected. Our Sunday congrega- 
tions were very large, and yet the order was perfect. 
In the evening I preached with unusual liberty, but be- 
fore I completed my sermon a sudden thunder storm 
swept through the forest, and scattered the people to 
their tents and all places available for shelter. About 
seventy-five souls were converted during the meet- 
ing. During the succeeding autumn and winter 
there were gracious revivals at various points on the 
district, and the year was one of success. 

Our District Conference met at Pittston, on the 



4o6 Life and Times of G. Peck., D.D. 

19th of March. I had repeatedly expressed my 
desire to retire from the effective ranks at the close 
of this year, and the brethren with whom I was asso- 
ciated seized the occasion to give me multiplied 
tokens of their kind regard. At this session of the 
District Conference the brethren of the district pre- 
sented to me an elegant and costly easy-chair, and 
a series of resolutions, beautifully engrossed on parch- 
ment, and set in a gilt frame. These resolutions 
were as follows : — 

Preamble and Resolutions adopted by the Ministers of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church of the Wyoming District, 
Wyoming Conference, March, 1873. 

Whereas, Rev. George Peck, D.D., is about to complete his 
term of service as presiding elder of this district ; and, 

Whereas, He, after rendering effective service for fifty-seven 
consecutive years, is about to retire from the active work of the 
ministry; and. 

Whereas, It is eminently proper that we should indicate in 
some manner our estimate of such unwonted service, as well as 
our esteem for our beloved and venerable friend ; therefore. 

Resolved, I. That we, the ministers of the Wyoming Dis- 
trict, devoutly acknowledge and glorify that gracious Provi- 
dence which has sustained his honored servant, and enabled 
him so efficiently to serve the Church for so many years. 

Resolved, 2. That we heartily express our high appreciation 
and grateful recognition of the ability, pre-eminent labors, and 
success of Dr. Peck in the various positions of honor and re- 
sponsibility which he has from time to time been called to fill, 
and that as educator, editor, author, and minister of Christ, he 
has done so much for the elucidation and defense of evangelical 
truth. 

Resolved, 3. That the industry and consecration which have 
marked the public life of our venerated father in the Gospel 
furnish a commendable example and inspiration to those who. 



Superannuation. 407 

younger in years, are engaged in the responsible work of 
preaching tlie " unsearchable riches of Christ." 

Resolved, 4. That we hereby Convey to the venerable Doctor 
the assurance that we shall ever revere his character and mem- 
ory, and earnestly pray that the consolations of Divine grace 
may be the perpetual joy and support of his remaining days, 
that he may " come to his grave in a full age, like as a shock 
of corn cometh in in his season,'' and finally receive the plaudit 
of the Master, " Well done, good and faithful servant, enter 
thou into the joy of thy Lord." 

The Conference of 1 873 met at Waverley, N. Y., 
Bishop Ames in the chair. I attended to my duties 
as presiding, elder as usual, and on the last day of 
the session made a request for a superannuated rela- 
tion, the first request I ever made to an Annual 
Conference. I was not conscious that I was wholly 
worn out. I felt that I could still preach twice on 
Sunday, attend the weekly prayer-meeting, and visit 
a few families daily, but I had reached the age of 
seventy-five years, and to do all that a pastoral 
charge needs to be done might prove burdensome, 
or even impossible, and I deemed it unwise, both for 
me and the Churches, to hazard the experiment. 
The occasion stirred my heart to its lowest depths. 
How good God has been to me all these years, and 
what kindness and enduring friendship I have found 
among his people ! In response to my request, the 
following resolutions were offered, and unanimously 
adopted : — 

Whereas, The Rev. George Peck, D.D., a member of this 
body, after fifty-seven years' service in the effective itinerancy, 
now asks, in view of age and infirmity, to be released from the 
special duties of the pastorate ; therefore, 



4o8 Life and Times of G. Peck, D.D. 

Resolved, i. That we render devout thanks to the great 
Head of the Church for continuing the life, health, and useful- 
ness of our venerable brother' for so many years as a watchman 
upon the walls of Zion. 

2. That we do most cordially thank our venerable brother 
himself for his unshrinking fidelity as pastor, teacher, editor, 
author, and presiding elder, and especially that for a period so 
unusually extended he has persistently resisted every tempta- 
tion to turn aside from the great work to which, in early life, 
he was divinely called. 

3. That while we will earnestly try, in our several spheres, 
to follow the example of fidelity he has thus set us, we do now 
and hereby assure him that our sympathies and prayers shall 
attend him to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, which, for the 
sake of the Church, we trust will be reached only at a distant 
day; 

4. Finally, that we now comply with his request, and assign 

him a superannuated relation. 

Z. Paddock, 

R. Nelson, 

H. Brownscombe. 

Thus ended an active itinerant ministry of fifty- 
seven years. With what emotions I began the long 
journey on that, to me, memorable first day of April, 
1 8 16, when I left my father's house to go to my first 
circuit ! How great and holy seemed the work in 
which I was about to engage ! How unprepared for 
it, how unworthy of it, I felt ! How sadly I looked 
back and saw tearful faces lingering at the door watch- 
ing me as I rode slowly away ! There was the begin- 
ning ; here is the end. The eyes which then gazed 
after me have long been closed in their last sleep. 
The lips which then breathed benedictions on me 
have long been silent in the dust. The rapid years 
have fled. The swift morning of life long since gave 



Superannuation. 409 

place to noon ; noon has come and gone, and the 
shadows of the evening are lengthening about me. 
But there is no gloom in their depths. Beyond the 
gathering darkness lies the brightness of eternal day. 
With humble gratitude to God for all his loving-kind- 
ness to me and mine through all these years, I bless 
him for the past, and, with unfaltering trust, look for- 
ward to the future. , 



THE END. 



Works of Rey. George Peck, D-D- 

PUBLISHED BY 

NELSON" & PHILLIPS, 

80S Broad-way, N. Y. 



Scripture Doctrine of Christian Per- 
fection. 

By Geobgb Peck, D.D. 12mo. Price, $1 75. 



Formation of a Manly Character. 

A Series of Lectures to Young Men. By GEORaE Peck, D.D. 
16mo. Price, 16 cents. 



Episcopacy and. Slavery. 

By GEORaB Peck, D.D. 8to. Price, 35 cents. 



Early Methodism 

Within the Bounds of the Old Genesee Conference. By George 
Peck, D.D. 12mo. Price, $1 75. 



"Why are Yon a Methodist P 

By George Peck, D.D. 18mo. Price, 60 cents. 



Onr Country: Its Trial and its Tri- 
umph. 

By George Peck, D.D. 12mo. Price, $1 50. 



HiliDesstWirtliifliUfaliy'sClilta, 



BY REV. J. T. CRANE, D.D. 
16ino., pp. 144. Tinted paper. Price, 80 cents. 



■WHAT IS SAID OF IT: 

" The fact assumed by the title of this book is unquestionably true. 
Dr. Crane rejects the theory of remaining sin in the regenerate, neces- 
sitating, for the attainment of holiness, the hypothesis of a 'seoonrl 
distinct work.' He insists upon Growth in Divine Grace and Knowl- 
edge as alike the birthright of the spiritual man and the great need of 
the Ohnrcli. In this view there will be cordial concurrence on the 
part of many who are not in accord with the theory of sanctification 
by a second conversion." — Methodist Protestant. 

" Dr. Crane writes with a special aim to set forth the real doctrine 
of Holiness as it is taught in the Scriptures, in opposition to tliose 
who would make it the result of a special work of the Spirit, wrought 
after conversion, and standing for methods of divine agency and forms 
of human experience quite unlike those belonging to regeneration. 
He insists that regeneration induces the holy quality, and that each 
redeemed soul is to go on, gaining more and more the quaUty for 
which the word Holiness stands. We account this the true and 
wholesome view, and are glad to see this forcible and charitable pre- 
sentation of it." — Morning Star. (Baptist.) 

" Had we been privileged to peruse Dr. Crane's brochure before pub- 
lication, we should doubtless have endeavored to convince him that 
there is no such diflference in his views as to require him to place 
them in so frank an antagonism to Mr. "Wesley's. 

" Dr. Crane's book is written in a pure, fresh, and living style. 
However he overrates justification, he is about right in his statement 
of sanctification. His tone and temper are .worthy the imitation of 
his respondents, whose spirit in some instances seems hardty justi- 
fied, much less sanctified." — Methodist Quarterly Beview. 

"This volume, by Dr. Crane, comes nearer our ideas of correct 
and safe teaching on the subject than any thing we have lately seen. 
Pity, as we think, he bad not been a little more full and explicit in the 
elaboration of some of his positions. He began well, and followed the 
line of truth, but not quite so far as we would have liked. It is well 
Dr. Crane wrote the book, and it will be well if it is generally cir- 
culated and read by the ministers and membership of the Church, and 
by others also." — St. Louis Chris. Advocate. (M. E. Church, South.) 

" This little volume is destined to attract general attention among 
the Methodists. The author is well known as a scholar of marked 
ability, and he seems to have undertaken this work after extensive 
research and mature thought. The book, we predict, will have a 
large circulation, and constitute an important contribution to this 
kind of literature." — Newark {If. J.) Evening Courier. 

"We say to every thoughtful Methodist, read Dr. Crane's book; 
and if you read it in a discriminating and devout spirit, it will serve 
at once to cool your head and warm your heart. We do not expect 
that the orthodoxy of our people at this time of day is to be pre- 
served by an Index Expurgatorius." — Methodist Quarterly Review. 



ARTS OP INTOXICATION. 

By J. T. CRANE, D.D. 
ISmo. $1 na. 



OPINIONS OF TEE PRESS. 

We have at last something new and original In the literature of the 
temperance cause. The treatise is a learned one ; but the style is 
spirited and simple, and so plain that a child may understand it. . . . 
Happy is that man who can bring to a moral enterprise tlie re-inforoe- 
ment of fresh and vigorous ideas. This benediction must rest upon 
the head of our friend, Dr. J. T. Crane. He comes to the front of the 
temperance ranks, and offers valuable service at an hour wlien his 
new weapon is peculiarly adapted to the result sought. It is a fresh 
and original form of presenting an old and worn theme, and has been 
so successfully executed that it will force a hearing from those who, 
through familiarity with the topic, have ceased to be interested in it. 
The style is so lively and clear, and the volume is so full of entertain- 
ing as well as startling information, that ovir young people will be sure 
to read it if it is once placed in their hands. — Ghristian Advocate. 

The appearance of this neat and timely volume will be hailed with 
great satisfaction by the friends of humanity. The question of intoxi- 
cants is discussed with a broader range than usual. — Methodist. 

" The Arts of Intoxication." — Dr. Crane has grappled with a mighty 
subject, and done it grandly. He gives the history in outline of in- 
toxication in ancient and modern times, and deals with the varied 
aspects of his theme as a philosopher, a philanthropist, and a Chris- 
tian. He has crowded an immense amount of valuable information 
into the compass of a beautiful little volume. It is a work of decided 
merit. We commend it to all our readers, old and young, ministers 
and laymen. The facts and figures may seem astounding, but no 
charge of exaggeration will be sustained against the author. — Western 
Christian Advocate. . 

Dr. Crane has placed the community under obligations for a volume 
of rare excellence,' as a treatise upon all the means of intoxication and 
their effects. It is valuable as a text-book upon a subject of vital 
Importance. — New Jersey Journal. 

We earnestly recommend it as a strong plea in behalf of temper- 
ance, and one which should be liberally circulated and read by mem- 
bers of temperance organizations, as supplying abundant arguments 
against the use and abuse of the bane of civilization. — Sussex Register. 

We have read it from preface to conclusion with constantly increas- 
ing interest. The book is characterized by great breadth and range 
of lliought, by fairness and thoroughness of argument, and by an uu^ 



NOTICE — Arts or Intoxication. 

usual amount of practical common sense. It is a work of no ordinary 
merit ; the most valuable contribution to temperance literature that 
has appeared for a long time. — Orange Journal. 

The results of the most careful scientific research are carefully stated, 
while the moral and religious conclusions are presented with great 
earnestness and power. Tlie book is valuable, timely, thorough, and 
suggestive. — Newark Courier. 

Written iu a very captivating style, that attracts and holds the 
reader's attention to the close. — Newark Journal. 

We consider this little volume a valuable addition to temperance 
literature, and worthy of a place in the library of every family. We 
most cheerfully commend it to the active advocates of the temperance 
reform as a most thorough discussion of the subject, and one which 
will greatly aid them in their work. — Stephen B. Bansom, Most 
Worthy Patriarch of the National Division of the Sons of Temperance. 

It is just the work needed at the present time, and it should have 
a large circulation. Dr. Crane's style is very attractive, rising at times 
to true eloquence. We commend It to all interested in the cause. — 
Boston Nation. 

No addition to the literature of the temperance reform, so able, con- 
clusive, and impressive as this, has been made for a long time. The 
work will at once take its high place as an argument and plea, as a 
weapon of offense and a shield, and be among the foremost standard- 
bearers in the good cause. The evident research, the candor, the perspi- 
cuity, the scientific care, and the religious spirit that mark the work, 
make it peculiarly fitted to reach a class of minds that have hitherto 
withstood arguments and statements not so deftly or decorously pre- 
sented. Let the work have wide circulation. — S. S. Times, (Philadel- 
phia.) 

Dr. Crane Is an animated and forcible writer, and he has condensed 
tlie temperance argument within the compass of a small duodecimo in 
a very skillful and interesting manner. He is absolutely uncompro- 
mising, however, upon the subject of the use of stimulants. . . It 
will be admitted by all who read this little volume that Dr. Crane is 
an earnest and eloquent advocate of total abstinence. We might even 
say that as an essayist he is the peer of Gough as a lecturer. — New 
York Evening Post 

Of all the books written in the interest of temperance, we think of 
none better adapted to be generally useful. It gives a great deal of 
valuable information, drawn from a wide circle of reading. It is an 
able plea and argument, and a valuable contribution to the science 
and conduct of life. — Newark Daily Advertiser. 



POPULAR AMUSEMENTS. 

By J. T. Crane, D.D., of the Newark Conference. With 
an Introduction by Bishop Janes. Pp. 209. 

16mo. $1 00. 



OPINIONS OF TEE PRESS. 

"We doubt if the line can be more wisely drawn. Dr. Crane's work 
is done in his best style. There are logic, rhetoric, philosopliy, and 
now and then sonie lively " amusement " in it. — Methodist Quarterly 
Review. 

In this volume there is a happy medium between a sour asceticism 
and free license of worldliness. "We trust its wide circulation will 
prove that it is duly appreciated. — Christian Advocate. 

We commend this volume to the perusal of our ministers, and then 
urge them to see to its free circulation among their people. — Ladies' 
Repository. 

It is a timely production, and will do much to combat mischievous 
popular amusements, as well as to introduce a harmless and bene- 
ficial class of recreations. — Methodist. 

Dr. Crane takes the only tenable ground respecting the amusements 
most generally practiced among fashionable society. Its cautions 
should be duly heeded. — Good News. 

It is a capital work; we wish it were in every family. Headers 
will find it written in an entertaining style, and we are very sure they 
cannot escape from the grip of its logic. "We advise pastors and 
leaders to send for it. — Nashville Christian Advocate. 

No more timely or valuable book has issued from the Methodist 
press in a long time. The author is a writer of rare ability and grace- 
ful style. Pastors can do no better service in their charges than to 
scatter it all around them. — Western Christian Advocate. 

If all our young men and maidens would carefully read tliis book, 
we would surely expect that reform concerning which the author is 
" despondent." The insidious practices that are creeping into the 
Church, the increased ease with wliich many of our members devote 
themselves to amusements, are signs of sorrow, ill omens that wo 
grieve to see. — Northern Christian Advocate.